Sylvester calls for transparency
Big money maintains grip on Vancouver politics, says independent mayoral candidate MORE AT THESTAR.COM/VANCOUVER
Independent mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester said Tuesday that the current focus on disclosing donor lists is distracting people from seeing the way big money is still influencing the 2018 campaign.
Sylvester’s comments follow an open letter released Monday outlining her concerns about outsized corporate and union contributions continuing to drive civic elections in the province.
“It’s really important not to just talk about integrity and call out people to disclose their donors,” Sylvester said in an interview. “You have to really demonstrate that (integrity). And that means full transparency.”
Sylvester said parties including the NPA and independent mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart have found ways to bring more financial heft to their campaigns by skirting regulations intended to ban big donors from B.C. elections. Under those new rules, corporate and union donations are banned, and
caps on individual donations are set at $1,200 per person, though only for campaigning. Stewart, who released his fifth and latest contribution disclosure on Oct. 2, challenged Vancouver’s competing candidates in late September to release their own donor lists before the first day of advance voting began Oct. 10. The practice follows a precedent from the 2014 election, when some mayoral candidates and campaigns laid out
their campaign donor lists ahead of election day. Stewart’s latest donor statement shows a total of 1,356 donors have so far contributed $151,794 to his election bid — an average of just under $112 per contribution. The NPA, Stewart’s closest competition, according to a Tuesday poll, met Stewart’s challenge, releasing its own list of cumulative donations Tuesday. That list shows the NPA has raised more than $837,000
from 4,460 individuals, at an average of roughly $188 per contribution. The NPA did not respond to a request for comment. But Stewart’s endorsement by the Vancouver and District Labour Council (VDLC) has spurred criticism from Sylvester that the support, with VDLC putting man hours toward flyer distribution and other efforts, amounts to an exploitation of a loophole regarding the ban on union donations.
Independent Vancouver mayoral candidate Shauna Sylvester says campaign donor lists distract from the deeper ways big money is linked to civic elections.