Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bill Bennett heads up Municipal Election Task Force

I'm stealing from Paying Attention again. At the Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention this summer Gordon Campbell announced the formation of a task force examining civic election rules/laws. We currently have no restrictions on election spending, transparency, and so on. In a speech that offered little to anyone* and was largely bereft of substance, GC announced this task force as if it was a major policy move or something. Okay.

The other day the government announced the formation of the task force. Liberal MLA Bill Bennett (he of questionable judgment at the best of times) will co-chair with Harry Nyce, president of the UBCM. They are joined by two more Liberal MLAs, Donna Barnett from Cariboo-Chilcotin and Douglas Horne, Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, and Surrey Councillor Barbara Steele and Quesnel Mayor Mary Sjostrom, both vice-presidents at the UBCM.

Here is Paul Willcocks' take on it:

"The task force will have six members - three from the UBCM and three MLAs. All Liberals. No public interest representatives. No NDP MLAs, or independent Vicki Huntington. The fix appears to be in. Campbell has rejected any limits on corporate and union donations to provincial parties. Any recommendations on limits for municipal donations would be embarassing. Stacking the committee reduces the risk."

I'll have to take his word that the three UBCM officials are Liberals (his word is pretty solid, kids). This is ridiculous. No experienced experts from Elections BC or Elections Canada? No policy wonk professors? Nope, instead we get Bill Bennett. Our choice. He's one of us. What?
Thinly veiled racism? "You want someone who pays taxes and is concerned about how that money is spent."

Co-chair Bill Bennett is a horrible choice, given his chequered past (see link above). His campaign this spring was rocked by controversy, including the publication of the above ad, which pretty clearly asks East Kootenay residents to vote for him because he's white (his NDP opponent, Troy Sebastian, is a member of the Ktunaxa nation): "He's one of us... You want someone who pays taxes..." Um, who doesn't pay taxes, Bill? Do you mean Indians? They don't care about how money is spent, right, because they suck up government funds like nothin' else. Freeloaders...

This is the guy we have directing a body tasked with making ethical and policy decisions about election reform? Brutal.

*Usually he gives millions and millions to municipalities.