Skookum bucks for B.C. Liberals

Financial contributions continue to pour into the B.C. Liberal Party, documented by its voluntary “real-time” disclosure that started in January and abruptly stopped at the end of May.

This has carried on after the election where the B.C. Liberals lost their majority and set the stage for the “GreeNDP” rebel alliance. Now the Imperial dynasty is assembling a veritable Death Star of campaign cash.

Their last disclosure report was filed June 2 and runs to 13 pages. It shows the prospect of another taste of NDP government isn’t hurting the B.C. Liberals’ bottom line.

Most of the more than 500 donations for the last week of May are from individuals, $25 here, $200 there. A few big ones jump out, such as $19,500 from Anthem Properties Group, $20,000 from Burnaby real estate lawyer Garth Evans, and $30,000 from Vancouver developer Holborn Holdings.

There’s $13,700 from the Progressive Contractors Association of Canada, representing companies that mostly employ members of the Christian Labour Association of Canada. That’s the discount construction union that made a B.C. breakthrough with a hefty share of work on the Site C dam.

IATSE Local 891, the B.C. local of the international union representing movie and theatre artists and technicians, cut a cheque for $5,000 to Team Christy Clark. Other than the Steelworkers, who covered the payroll for the NDP election campaign, private sector unions have been drifting away from their historical home.

It was a good week for the B.C. Liberals with forest companies. The Interior Lumber Manufacturers Association gave $5,000, Skookumchuck Pulp Inc. pitched in $20,000, and Western Forest Products tied for the week’s biggest donation with $30,000.

Skookumchuck, north of Cranbrook, is now a division of Paper Excellence, the Indonesian-owned private corporation that bought the mill from Tembec in 2013. Paper Excellence also resurrected the pulp mill in Mackenzie and owns Howe Sound Pulp and Paper.

This impressive donation pace is one motivation for the B.C. Liberals to use delaying tactics in the legislature session that begins this week. The pitch is simple: the socialist hordes are once again at the gates, to borrow a phrase from the legendary premier W.A.C. Bennett. Only this time it’s socialism with solar panels, and the B.C. Green spending plan makes the NDP look like cheapskates.

It’s a rumour-heavy environment in the legislature these days, and here’s one of the wilder ones I’ve heard.

Clark’s throne speech is to be presented Thursday, after the much-anticipated election of a B.C. Liberal MLA as speaker. The speech will no doubt emphasize the B.C. Liberal plan to reduce Medical Services Plan premiums, which was adopted by the NDP for the election and is consistent with Green leader Andrew Weaver’s idea to shift the burden to personal income tax.

The political game is to make it as awkward as possible for the NDP and Greens to vote against it. And this tactic could go further.

The B.C. Liberals can delay the crucial vote on the speech by introducing legislation, and forcing debate on that instead. They could do this multiple times.

And what legislation would be most difficult for the opposition parties to oppose? A bill to eliminate corporate and union donations. That would also be the first to be presented by a new NDP government, as it was by NDP Premier Rachel Notley in Alberta.

Could the B.C. Liberals possibly be so hypocritical as to bank another $10 million or so and then make a show of calling a halt to the corporate cash machine? Wait and see.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

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