Vancouver should move to a proportional-representation system for its civic elections, allow immigrants who aren’t yet citizens to vote and place tighter controls on campaign finance, including asking councillors to excuse themselves from decisions that involve their donors, says an independent report commissioned by the city. The report, which will be considered by council on Tuesday, proposes widespread changes to local elections, which have suffered from poor turnout in recent years as the amount of money spent by campaigns skyrocketed. Politicians in the city have also faced increasing scrutiny over council approvals of projects whose developers are among the largest donors to the city’s political parties. However, the city could not implement any of those changes without the support of the provincial government, which has previously been reluctant to tighten campaign-finance rules, either at the local or provincial levels.
The recommendation to change the city’s code of conduct by barring councillors from voting on projects involving their donors could prohibit many councillors from voting on many issues that come before council.
“Municipal elected officials make decisions on developments proposed by campaign contributors and on contracts with unions that contributed directly or indirectly to their campaigns, creating an appearance of conflict of interest that undermines public confidence in the electoral system and depresses turnout,” the report said.