The B.C. Liberal government is poised to announce the formation of a special panel to look into the province’s political fundraising rules, following heavy criticism of the governing party’s own practices.
Premier Christy Clark’s office has confirmed that the government plans to form an independent panel of non-partisan experts to investigate political campaign financing.
According to a spokesman in the premier’s office the new panel may consider setting donation limits and banning corporate donations.
The panel will reported to the legislative assembly, but it is unlikely that any changes the panel recommends will come into practice before the May 9 provincial election.
I’m curious about the panel’s terms of reference. The article says it will be an independent body reporting to the Legislative Assembly. But the current legislature will be dissolved in less than a month. If the panel’s work is not complete before the legislature dissolves, its report cannot be released until the new legislature convenes following the election (remember the kerfuffle around Sheila Fraser’s leaked draft report on summit expenses during the 2011 federal election). So this may be one way the Liberals intend to defuse the issue as far as possible, rather than trying to defend the indefensible status quo or caving in completely and running on fundraising reform commitments mirroring those of the opposition parties. Instead, during the campaign Clark can respond to Horgan and co. on the fundraising issue by just telling them to wait for the expert independent panel’s report, casting the opposition as impatient hotheads looking to score cheap points while the governing party pretends to handle the issue in a “professional” manner.