The B.C. Green Party will forgo corporate and union donations from now on even though the move may put it at a financial disadvantage against the BC Liberals and New Democrats as next spring's provincial election nears.
Green leader Andrew Weaver announced the decision in his speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria Wednesday and called on the other parties to likewise end the role of "big money" in politics to rebuild public trust.
"Political parties and their MLAs should not be reduced to puppets controlled by corporate or union puppet masters, with a firm grip on the purse strings," Weaver said, accusing the Liberals of refusing to pass reforms and the NDP of refusing to act unilaterally.
He suggested political donations can taint policy positions on an issue like the Mount Polley mine disaster.
"The corporation that operates the mine is a substantial donor to the BC Liberals," Weaver said. "The union representing the workers at the mine is a substantial donor to the B.C. NDP. Whose interests are being served? Who is there to represent the people of British Columbia?"
Groups supporting reform have long advocated an end to corporate and union contributions at the provincial level.
Weaver said the Greens' refusal to accept corporate and union donations takes effect immediately but previous donations won't be returned.
It's unclear how much of an impact it will have on the party coffers as most financial support has so far come from individuals.
Union and corporate donations made up 15 per cent of B.C. Green donations in 2014 and three per cent in 2015.
"It's non-trivial," Weaver said later, but added he felt the party had to demonstrate leadership on the issue. "It is a gamble. It is a risk. But it's the right thing to do."
During his UBCM speech, Weaver reiterated his predictions for years that the government's liquefied natural gas "pipe dream" will never materialize.
He also said the party believes in constructive criticism and "evidence-based decision making as opposed to what happens far too often in politics today: decision-based evidence making."