Thursday, January 28, 2010

Your chance to take the influence of big money out of municipal politics (and maybe provincial politics)

The writing is truly atrocious, but the municipal election task force has a consultation website up and anyone who cares about the political process in B.C. should take the chance to provide comments.

The task force, headed by Community Development Minister Bill Bennett, is looking at possible reforms to the municipal election process.

A lot needs to be done. As I set out here, there are now no limits on campaign donations or spending. It would be easy, not that expensive and cost-effective to install a loyal council if you had special interests, as a developer or public sector union or anything else.

Visit the site. Do some research. Make a submission. If you like, e-mail me a copy and I’ll post it here.

Municipal election reform is desperately needed. But it will also be hard for the government to continue allowing unlimited donations to provincial parties by individuals, lobbyists, unions and corporations if it concludes they are corrupting influence on politics.

The writing on the site is inexcusable though.

I ran a random section, on campaign donation limits, through the standard Flesch-Kincaid readability test. It indicates the grade level a person will have to have reached to comprehend the text and scores the reading ease.

“A high score implies an easy text,” the guide notes. “In comparison comics typically score around 90 while legalese can get score below 10.”

The section scored -1 for reading ease.

And the test found people needed a university degree plus four years of postgrad education to comprehend it.

There is no excuse for that in a public consultation document in a province where about one-third of the adults have a high school education. (My last column was at Grade 11 and 41 per cent reading ease; still not great.)

The government should get its money back from whoever wrote the consultation document.


Bernard von Schulmann said...

Glad to see you are raise this issue for people to pay attention to. I will be making a submission

Norman Farrell said...

Third paragraph: IF?

Declan said...

Thanks for the heads-up. Reading the discussion paper on allowing corporations to vote was like being in Wonderland.

The pro is that if corporations can vote then they can push for lower tax on business. The con is that its hard to design the rules to get enough corporations to vote in order for them to have enough influence to lower business taxes. I'm paraphrasing, but that seemed to be the essence of it.


Anonymous said...

Those United States Justices Supreme just decided that corporations are people and are allowed to contribute as much as they want to political campaigns -- Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [.PDF]

I wonder if Canada's Supremes would use our Charter of Rights and Freedoms to come to the same conclusion?

Perhaps the BC Liberals are asking an already decided question? Campbell likes to stack his committees with folks who will give him the answer he seeks.

Please note that Friday April 15, 2010 is the deadline for submissions.