OP/ED: Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you votes
B.C.’s 2017 election will go down in the history books and in more ways than one.
The province’s closest election also turned out to be its most expensive.
While the final numbers will increase as a few stragglers report and additional candidate spending is tacked on, the B.C. Green party spent $905,000 on its campaign, the NDP $7.9 million and the B.C. Liberal party $13.6 million, for a grand total of $20.3 million.
In the 2014 Quebec election, the four parties represented in the National Assembly – and their combined 495 candidates – spent $17.4 million.
With 3.15 million registered voters in B.C. – nearly half of Quebec’s total – the Greens spent 29 cents per voter, the NDP $2.50 and the Liberals $4.31.
Quebec’s limit is $1.37 per voter.
It’s tough to do line-by-line spending comparisons between the parties, as each may report shared spending with local campaigns differently, however the Greens spent $47,040 on research and polling, the NDP ($209,300) and the Liberals ($277,460).
The NDP was the big spender on media advertising at $3 million, followed by the Liberals ($2.5 million) and the Greens ($143,000).
In the “if you’re going to spend it, you need to raise it department,” the Greens pulled in $869,000 between January 1 and May 9, the Liberals ($7.9 million) and the NDP ($9.4 million).
Not only did the NDP raise the most, they also won the award for single largest donor: the United Steelworkers at $749,622.
The Liberals needed eight donors – four of them property developers – to hit $752,100.
And the Greens needed every single one of their donations over $250 – all 2,068 of them – to reach $774,739.
Unions kicked in $3.3 million for the NDP and $40,050 for the Liberals.
The top 160 corporate donors to the Liberals gave a total of $3.4 million.
At least eight corporate donors gave more than $25,000 to the NDP, including Concord Pacific ($25,000), Gateway Casinos ($26,490), Canadian Forest Products ($30,500), Teck Resources ($50,790) and Aquilini Investment Group ($101,000).
Not surprisingly – having sworn off corporate and unions donations altogether – the Greens saw nothing from either, but did see $20,000, its largest single cheque, from Elizabeth Beedie, wife of Vancouver property developer Ryan Beedie.
Airbnb checked in with the Liberals for $1,500, Super Save Shredding gave $300 to Rich Coleman’s re-election effort and the B.C. Lions Football Club was in for $5,000.
Hockey Canada and the Telus Cup – Canada’s annual national midget ‘AAA’ hockey championship – donated $300 to the Liberal campaign. Telus topped that up by another $13,580, but saved its biggest cheque for the NDP this time out ($20,000).
Four golf clubs and two golfing associations contributed $3,226 to Liberal coffers and, well, nothing to the NDP. Since 2005, assorted golf clubs have donated $324,439 to the Liberals and $3,775 to the NDP.
Conspicuously absent from the 2017 Liberal list? Condo King Bob Rennie, although his $305,550 in total donations to the party is nothing to sneeze at.
In the dark money corner, the B.C. Wine Institute contributed $10,000 to the Liberals and no more than $250 to the NDP, if it gave anything at all.
The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers was in for $6,800 with the Liberals and $3,000 for the NDP. The Clean Energy Association of B.C. wasn’t quite as generous with $2,000 for the Liberals and $350 for the NDP.
The Guide Outfitters Association of B.C. gave $10,000 to the Liberals and $9,000 to the NDP.
And the New Car Dealers Association didn’t disappoint with $48,050 for the Liberal team, bringing its running total to more than $1.3 million.
The association doesn’t appear on the 2017 NDP list, but it has given $82,790 to the party.
And to think, the most interesting numbers for 2017 are still to come.
The donations between May 10 and the date that corporate and union donations are finally banned in the province, that is if Premier John Horgan would stop fundraising long enough to honour his “first order of business” commitment.
Did Liberal supporters turn off the cash taps after May 9? Did they turn it back on after former premier Christy Clark stepped down as party leader?
All that and more next April.
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca
Note: In a recent commentary on the B.C. Chamber of Commerce’s dinners with deputy ministers, it was incorrectly stated that the B.C. LNG Alliance was in attendance, based on the presence of its now president and CEO David Keane.
At the time, Mr. Keane was the vice-president of policy and corporate affairs at petroleum firm BG Canada.