Barbara Yaffe on Money and the Metro Vancouver Transit Referendum

Vancouver Sun columnist Barbara Yaffe explores the issue of campaign financing for the Metro Vancouver transit referendum here:

In the article Yaffe quotes Elections BC spokesman Don Main who confirmed that when it comes to money spent on the referendum campaign, there is no limit on how much can be spent, and no transparency or reporting on who is funding the campaigns and how much is being spent.

The Plebiscite Regulation that provides the legal basis for the referendum is simply silent on the issue of advertising and financing.

Yaffe asks whether this is fair, which is certainly a fair question. B.C. has been a leader in Canada for pursuing an egalitarian model of elections through regulation of election financing and transparency requirements, especially with respect to third party financing and advertising. Proponents and opponents in the 2005 and 2009 referenda on electoral reform had to file disclosure reports, same as in the HST initiative. Even in the Recall process there are requirements to file a financial report and disclose contributors.

Given the concern regarding the influence of money on provincial elections, it is valid to question why no limits were placed on how much money can be spent on the transit referendum, or at least why there is no requirement for organizations that are collecting contributions and incurring expenses in connection with the referendum to disclose to the public where the money came from and how much was spent.

What do you think about the lack of financing and reporting requirements? Does this affect the fairness of the referendum?

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