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Elections BC approved crypto campaign donations

Vancouver's on the front lines of Web3 innovation, how far is too far to test the limits?

GM. It's event season! Consensus is happening this weekend in Austin and there are less than two weeks until Collision in Toronto! Will I see you there?

This week, crypto enters the election game in an attempt to go mainstream, but is this a good thing?

Today's newsletter is 550 words, or a 3-and-a-half minute read.

- Erin, @erin_gee

In April, Vancouver mayoral candidate, Kim Sim, announced that Elections BC accepted his party's, A Better City (ABC), request to accept cryptocurrency donations (there is no ward system for local elections in BC, instead the city has 10 councillors and a mayor that serve the entire city; candidates can run independently or under a party for either a council seat or for mayor). 

The local campaign is still in its early days (E-Day is October 15), so there is no party platform available on the ABC website, however, it does state that Sim, himself, is pro-harm reduction and implies that the party is pro-law enforcement. Yet, given statements on Twitter regarding Vancouver's role in the Web3 ecosystem, it should be expected that Sim will come out with a very tech-forward platform. He even went to SXSW which caused Vancouver's Web3 evangelists to freak out, including Daily Hive CEO, Karm Sumal, which was also the only news outlet to cover ABC's Elections BC announcement.

Back during the Ottawa Occupation, once the Emergencies Act was invoked and the crowdfunding and personal accounts of the occupiers were frozen, protesters were told to switch to cryptocurrency to circumvent temporary regulations put in place via the Act. One expert, Matt Maguire, told CTV News that the coin developed by the Convoy was designed to make it even more challenging to identify who had made the donations.

Why does this matter? 

The Elections BC website outlines that local campaign donations can only be made by BC residents who are a citizen or permanent resident of Canada, and to a maximum of $1,250. However, when donations are decentralized identifying who is making the donations becomes much more complex. While ABC is using BitPay which uses Onfido to verify a person's identity, there are other wallets that don't require documentation (e.g., Metamask, whose user base grew to 30 million in March), setting up opportunities for fraud and even foreign influence (things are illegal when it comes to elections!). Federally, individuals are only eligible to donate $1,675 to a candidate, thanks to campaign contribution limits.

These low limits do significantly reduce the risk of foreign intervention in Canadian elections, especially with crypto trying to make its way onto the scene. However, we can't ignore the fact that there needs to be checks and balances from government to ensure that the existing risk is even lower.

Is this thinking that the worst could happen? Absolutely, but it's important to prepare for these situations so that policies and regulations are made thoughtfully on the front end instead of trying to cobble together regulations after the fact, ones that may actually end up stifling innovation rather than facilitating it.

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