EDITORIAL: Election reform needs balance

Financial changes could prevent some people from running for elected office

The NDP government has initiated changes to how municipal, school board and regional district elections are funded, and while the goal is more transparency, they could have a negative impact on the democratic process.

The legislation would ban corporate and union donations, put limits on individual contributions and ban out-of-province donations.

Contributions for the election campaign of a candidate or elector organization will be limited to $1,200 per donor per year.

The implications in small towns like Lumby or Enderby are likely minimal as most candidates self-fund their campaigns or get donations from individual friends or family, but in communities even the size of Vernon, corporate and union contributions are common.

Obviously some will be suspicious of contributions from businesses and unions and the possible expectations they have of candidates they endorse, but accepting money doesn’t necessarily mean you fall into lock-step with the views of your donor.

There is also the reality that running for public office isn’t cheap. There is a variety of expenses, including advertising, signs, Internet promotions and possibly opening a campaign office. Unless the candidate is independently wealthy, the prospect of serving your community can be financially daunting. And yet, a community can benefit by having leaders with a variety of backgrounds.

The NDP have the best of intentions, but there needs to be a balance between transparency and ensuring a broad-spectrum of society represents the public.

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