Lately, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about taking big money out of politics, and more specifically in the context of the provincial government, banning “big money”, meaning union and corporate donations. I’ve debated the merits of such a policy for my own political campaign and have come to the conclusion that an outright ban on donations from any interested party communicates that I have a preference for, or will be giving more support to, other interested parties. This would be an unconstructive beginning as an elected official and is an outcome I’m not interested in. Instead, I’d prefer to engage all parties with a stake in our communities in an open, two-way dialogue about how we can do better in Saanich. And I commit to approaching these discussions with an open mind.
I’m not naïve; I recognize and have studied the nefarious, crony history of city and municipal governments around the world. I also have thought a lot about how to avoid this outcome. The approach is twofold: through principled and transparent decision-making, combined with communication of a vision that clearly outlines community-supported priorities. This approach reduces overtly political and ad hoc decision making. It creates more certainty for those that rely on municipal services and processes, and it provides the basis for community pride, more civic engagement, and a compelling brand to attract investment and new residents. It also importantly makes it easier for citizens to hold us to account for our decisions during our time in office.
When individuals or organizations donate to my political campaign, it means they support my vision, values, or approach. It absolutely does not mean they, or policies that benefit them, will receive preferential treatment of any kind over the course of my tenure as an elected official. And that’s appropriate. It’s important for us all to never forget that those with the most at stake are often those with the quietest voices in the political arena.