B.C. Liberals defend donation downpour

BC Liberals keep corporate donations rolling in for election, NDP won't disclose their corporate and union take early

  • Thu Jan 19th, 2017 6:00am
  • News

BC Liberal Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson

The B.C. Liberal Party won’t support eliminating corporate and union donations, or capping the amount that individuals can add to their bulging campaign fund, says Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson.

The big issue for voters is knowing who has donated and how much before the May 9 election, said Wilkinson, a former party president. He was responding the NDP opposition’s latest call to get “big money” out of B.C. politics.

NDP leader John Horgan said Thursday the BC Liberals’ voluntary disclosure shows $6 million of the $12.5 million they raised in 2016 came from just 185 donors. That level of influence by so few people and corporations is why the NDP will present their sixth bill to limit donations to individuals when the B.C. legislature resumes sitting Feb. 14, Horgan said.

Wilkinson said the BC Liberal majority will vote down the bill, and he called on the NDP to disclose its donations before people vote. He referred to a letter the NDP recently sent to BC Liberal donors, suggesting they also donate to the NDP, a strategy that helped the party set a record for corporate donors before the 2013 vote.

“We believe the reason the NDP are reluctant to disclose their donors is that they have sent a shakedown letter to companies all over BC demanding $10,000 from each company,” Wilkinson said. “They don’t want their corporate donations to be known, and they intend to run the election on that kind of basis.”

Horgan declined to say how much the NDP raised in 2016, saying the party will release the totals at the end of February, once tax credits are processed for all donors.

Horgan said he has “no opinion” on the option of a public subsidy for political parties to replace corporate and union donations, as was done by former prime minister Jean Chrétien during the 1990s.

Wilkinson said the federal per-vote subsidy was abandoned because it was a disaster, helping the separatist Bloc Quebecois reach official opposition status with little voluntary support from voters.

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said he refuses all but individual donations, and it’s a choice any party can make.

“The BC Liberals are just laughing it off, while the B.C. NDP will only do something about it if they win the election,” Weaver said. “I the meantime, both of them will accept the same potentially corrupting money.”