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Premier defends her 'real time' reporting of pay-for-play donations

Premier Christy Clark (left) answers questions at a Greater Westside Board of Trade breakfast Friday morning in West Kelowna.Pictured with her are moderators Bobby Gidda and Elfriede Schmoll. - Alistair Waters/Capital News
Premier Christy Clark (left) answers questions at a Greater Westside Board of Trade breakfast Friday morning in West Kelowna.Pictured with her are moderators Bobby Gidda and Elfriede Schmoll.
— image credit: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Premier Christy Clark says the federal government's decision to limit cash-for-access fundraising is an interesting idea that she will look at, but she thinks her plans for reporting donations quicker is a better idea.

Asked in Kelowna Friday morning about the decision by the federal Liberals to require cash-for-access fundraisers to now be held in publicly accessible spaces rather than private homes or clubs, publicly advertising them in advance and timely reporting of how many people attended and how much was raised, Clark said she likes her plan for "real time" reporting on who attended an event and how much each person gave.

"So when someone donates, we report it," said Clark, who attended a $5,000 per plate party fundraising dinner Thursday night at Mission Hill Winery in her Westside-Kelowna riding.

In addition to calling on the feds to look at following her lead, she also blasted the NDP for refusing to do so.

"But I hope they do because that offers a real level of transparency."

The NDP has tried repeatedly to have the government ban donations from corporations and unions to political parties in B.C. but the Liberal government has rejected the call each time.

Clark said she believes what the public wants is to know is that when some one donates to a political party, it isn't linked to a decision that government makes.

"And I think it's a lot easier to see that, and make it more transparent, if we do (reporting) in real time."

On Thursday, vans with darkened windows ferried a reported 20 well-heeled attendees into the dinner at the winery so reporters outside could not see who was inside or talk to them as they arrived.

In recent days, because of the secrecy surrounding the fundraising dinner leading up to it taking place in her riding, the spotlight has been focused once again on what some have dubbed "pay-to-play" access to the premier.

Two complaints by the NDP's David Eby last year to the province's conflict commissioner about high-priced Liberal Party fundraisers attended by the premier were dismissed.

In the case of Prime MInister Justin Trudeau, his attendance at events involving business leaders with ties to China have raised concerns by federal Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson and criticism by Opposition MPs.

Following the West Kelowna dinner, on Friday morning, Clark took questions at a Greater Westside Board of Trade breakfast in her riding and addressed the issue with reporters afterwards. Tickets for breakfast—with proceeds going to the board of trade— were available to the public and cost $28 each.

The premier and the 100 people who attended the breakfast at the Cove Resort were greeted by a pair of protesters outside, Dayleen and Eduard Van Ryswyk, who held a large banner listing contributions of a few large construction companies and the value of work they have won in contracts from the government.

The Van Ryswyks are concerned about rich donors having access to the premier that they feel regular members of the public do not have.

Dayleen Van Ryswyk was an NDP candidate in Kelowna-Mission in the 2013 provincial election but had her candidacy cancelled by the party on the first day of the campaign after derogatory remarks she made in a 2009 online forum concerning aboriginal people and French Canadians came to light.

 

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