UBCM bans spon­sor­ship at its an­nual con­ven­tion by for­eign gov­ern­ments

Times Colonist - - B.c. / Canada - SCOTT BROWN

The Union of B.C. Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, which faced harsh crit­i­cism for ac­cept­ing money from China, will no longer ac­cept do­na­tions from for­eign gov­ern­ments.

The Chi­nese con­sulate in Van­cou­ver spent about $6,000 on its an­nual wine-and-dine re­cep­tion with mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers dur­ing Septem­ber’s UBCM con­ven­tion at the Van­cou­ver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

Port Co­quit­lam Mayor Brad West, who was among a group of pro­test­ers who ral­lied out­side the event, called it a “cash-forac­cess” scheme on the part of the Chi­nese con­sulate, which had been throw­ing the re­cep­tion since 2012.

An in­de­pen­dent panel, ap­pointed by the UBCM in July to re­view the con­ven­tion’s fi­nanc­ing, de­liv­ered a re­port on Wed­nes­day call­ing for a ban on for­eign gov­ern­ment spon­sor­ship of con­ven­tion events such as re­cep­tions and other net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

West cred­ited public pres­sure on elected of­fi­cials for prompt­ing the pol­icy change.

Spon­sor­ship ac­counts for about 20 per cent of the cost of the an­nual UBCM con­ven­tion — $250,000-$345,000 each year — and cov­ers ev­ery­thing from wire­less in­ter­net, name badges and cof­fee, to ban­quets, busi­ness cen­tres and awards.

In 2018, there were 25 cor­po­rate and in­dus­trial spon­sors, seven gov­ern­ment and Crown agen­cies, five unions and one con­sulate — China’s.

The re­view panel rec­om­mended that unions and cor­po­ra­tions still be per­mit­ted to spon­sor events.

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