A big money group run by a shadowy right-wing millionaire has launched a full-scale air war targeting electoral reform
As British Columbia gets ready for its upcoming referendum on electoral reform, the province’s rich and powerful are lining up to defend the status quo.
A group run by millionaire BC Liberal donor Jim Shepherd, a wealthy lumber baron described as a “hardline conservative” and a “threat to democracy,” is reportedly bombarding households across the province with robocalls, though some wonder how he got their phone number.
The group, which is registered at the address of one of BC’s top corporate law firms representing the province’s biggest “mining, energy, technology and real estate” companies, recruited local radio broadcaster Bill Good to voice the robocalls.
In the robocall, Good tells unsuspecting British Columbians that the referendum is rigged to deliver a “particular outcome” – this even after Elections BC shot down the group’s other false claim that the referendum question was too “confusing” and “complex” for ordinary voters to understand.
Holy hell. Awful robocall just now from Bill Good, scaremongering over the November electoral reform referendum. How much money do the fat cats who are fighting to keep First Past the Post actually have? Anyway, it’s proof of just how good FPTP is for Big Money. #bcpoli #pr4bc
— Lindsay Brown (@Lidsville) June 21, 2018
Dear @bcliberals I just got a robocall from your “fair referendum” third-party. Explain how the word “fair” is continually used, yet other words such as “public outcry” and “free of bias” and “blatant act of manipulation” when they are the mouthpiece for your party? #bcpoli
— Patty O’Limerick (@PattyOLimerick) June 23, 2018
I received one of these calls, too. Hopefully most people hang up and do their own research. https://t.co/TlqJ9D8DRN
— Natasha S (@nlsil) June 22, 2018
Good’s robocalls also coincide with an anti-electoral reform ads currently being broadcast on the radio, leading to conflict-of-interest accusations.
According to The Star Vancouver, the ad currently runs on Vancouver’s News 1130 radio station, where Good has a regular opinion slot, which Good recently used on several occasions to denounced BC’s electoral reform referendum – something that may be “confusing for listeners.”
News 1130 says it will now disclose his “role in the situation” during “any future editorials where he talks about this topic.”
Shepherd’s anti-electoral reform group now appears to be waging a full-scale air war blanketing the province with messages defending the status quo.
In addition to robocalls and radio ads, the group is also currently running:
I’m with Bill: “If Shepard can spend a million dollars to ask questions, he better provide answers about his own politics as well.” ~ @BillTieleman in 2013 on Jim Shepard of https://t.co/qviIaOylPf https://t.co/yh93RQSJMM #prorep #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/EV2Bt4sxtt
— Lesli Boldt (@LesliBoldt) June 13, 2018
“grassroots” anti #pr4bc group sure seem funded well enough to buy front page wrappers on major newspaper on a regular basis.
This is why we need change: 1%er groups are too powerful. #bcpoli pic.twitter.com/61giHvT2jK
— Peter Kelly 🇨🇦 (@PeterKellyBC) June 21, 2018
What is the real goal behind this big money group’s ad campaign?
According to Max Cameron of the UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, the group’s true goal is to “plant the seed of doubt in the minds of voters” about electoral reform:
“I think they’re trying to plant the seed of doubt in the minds of voters that there’s something somehow, unfair, tendentious, biased about the ballot question itself. It’s an attempt to really make people skeptical that somehow, the government is pulling to wool over our eyes.”
It’s worth noting that Shepherd, the millionare behind the group, previously ran a million dollar ad campaign funded by big money in support of Christy Clark’s BC Liberals in 2013.
Sounds like BC’s defenders of the status quo have deep, deep pockets.