B.C. Liberal Finance Minister and house leader Mike de Jong speaks to reports at his legislature office Monday. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

UPDATE: B.C. Liberals expect to lose power Thursday

Greens, NDP reject debate on banning corporate donations

The B.C. Liberal government presented its own legislation to ban corporate and union donations Monday, but it was immediately voted down by the B.C. NDP and Greens.

Another bill, which would have extended official party status to the three B.C. Green MLAs, was also voted down, sight unseen, by the combined opposition parties.

As a new session of the B.C. legislature began Monday, BC Liberal house leader Mike de Jong and Premier Christy Clark said they expect to lose the vote on the B.C. Liberals’ post-election throne speech, which contained sweeping new promises taken from opposition election platforms. That vote is now expected at the end of the sitting day on Thursday.

NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver have said Premier Christy Clark’s newly adopted positions on raising income assistance rates, banning bridge tolls and other recent reversals have strengthened their resolve to defeat the B.C. Liberals.

The campaign finance reforms could have been dealt with in a day with support of all MLAs, de Jong said.

“If the opposition were concerned that this is some sort of delay tactic, it is not,” he said. “The confidence vote will take place on Thursday.”

Last week’s throne speech promised measures that would restrict donations to individuals only, and others that mainly affect only the NDP, such as banning transfer of funds from a federal to a provincial party and “in kind” donations such as the transfer of union staff to work on political campaigns.

Horgan and Weaver immediately said they won’t support the B.C. Liberal bill to restrict election financing. Weaver said the party has had 16 years to address B.C.’s “outrageously lax campaign finance laws” while accepting millions in corporate donations.

“In light of our existing accord, until confidence has been tested, it would not be appropriate for us to consider debate on government bills,” Weaver said.

Horgan said Clark has already delayed calling the legislature for the confidence vote for nearly a month, as school districts approach their deadline at the end of June to submit balanced budgets.

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