This week, the federal Liberal government introduced new legislation to tackle pre-election spending and to ban buying election ads with foreign money, and to clamp down on spreading misleading information.
Meanwhile, Elections BC has released its candidate expense limits for the upcoming local elections.
Mayoral candidates in Langley Township will be allowed to spend up to $77,001.50, and in the City, up to $21,799.65.
And that’s only if they can raise that much. Corporate and union donations have been banned from local elections, and individual donations are capped.
These are not the most exciting pieces of legislation (if “exciting legislation” isn’t already an oxymoron).
But they’re good steps.
Are they likely to stamp out the influence of the rich and powerful from Canadian elections? Will they provide a perfect shield against overseas powers and third parties trying to fling money and rumour into our political process?
Nope. No law is perfect, and these laws may need to be updated or replaced in the future.
But they are among the most significant pieces of democratic reform we’ve had in years.
The whole idea of representative democracy is that the candidates say what they’re going to do and what they stand for, and the mass of voters picks the best (or least-bad) option.
When money gives any one point of view an outsized megaphone, it makes that more difficult. Cutting back on cash in politics and blocking the worst of the lies will help us focus on the things that matter – policy and integrity.