New party refuses corporate donations

A new municipal party in Langley Township says it will only allow personal donations in the run up to this year’s civic elections.

Live Langley announced it was forming in August last year, sparked by opposition to a number of land decisions, particularly in Willoughby and Fort Langley.

Now the party has announced it will not accept any donations from corporations, unions, or any other socities. Individuals will be limited to $750 per person per year, said Clint Lee, Live Langley’s president.

“We are ready to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak,” Lee said in a press release.

He said the party plans to run a campaign with four candidates this year.

In addition to limiting contributions, all contributions are to be made public.

Normally, disclosure of the funding and donations for a municipal political campaign comes after the campaign has finished. All candidates must provide a full listing of all donations, both of money and goods or services donated, by a set time limit. Donations over $100 of any kind must be disclosed by the spring after an election.

Live Langley is opposed to the use of money from developers in local elections. Developers and homebuilders are typically among the major donors to a number of campaigns, often giving to multiple candidates.

Lee said he accepts that refusing corporate or union money will put Live Langley at a disadvantage in the upcoming elections in November. The party will need support from the general public, he said.

Live Langley has arisen from a number of controversies over land use and rezonings over the past several years, including the swap of an unused school site in Willoughby for another lot in a different part of the neighbourhood, and the Wall property rezoning near Trinity Western University.

Diane Morrison of Wendel’s Bookstore and Cafe, who has been opposed to the Coulter Berry building, is also a member of Live Langley.

Langley has been the site of vigorous arguments over campaign fundraising and spending in the past. Councillors have been accused of favouring the interests of developers who made sizeable donations.

Developers have also notably spread money over multiple campaigns. During the last election in 2011, both Jack Froese, who would win the campaign for mayor, and the Vote Langley Now campaign headed by Rick Green, were given money by ParkLane Homes. Developer Peter Warkentin gave to the campaigns of Froese and Mel Kositsky.

Being high spending has not always been a route to success in winning a Township council seat.

The two new councillors elected in 2011 were David Davis, who spent $7,736 of his own money, accepting no donations whatsoever, and Michelle Sparrow, who spent $7,007 and took no corporate donations, running a campaign largely on social media.

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