B.C. Liberals in no position to give other parties lessons on political fundraising

(Victoria, 21 April 2013) – It’s a bit rich for the B.C. Liberal party to be giving lessons to the B.C. NDP on political fundraising, according to IntegrityBC.

The organization pointed to a recent question posed by Craig McInnes in his Vancouver Sun column. McInnes asked readers if they felt there was a connection between the fact that the largest donor to the B.C. Liberal campaign in 2009 was the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. and that the only significant tax change that survived the transition back to the PST was the 12 per cent sales tax on private vehicle sales, a rate that benefits car dealers?

If there was, it’s only one of numerous possible connections between wealthy B.C. Liberal party donors and government policies that British Columbians could ponder over, according to news reports.

Only last November concerns were being raised regarding the propriety of a ’boutique’ tax break that was designed to benefit Prince George-based Pacific Western Brewery, a major donor to the B.C. Liberals.

Yet it’s not just a pattern of worrisome connections that should concern voters, it’s the very approaches that the B.C. Liberal party uses as well, tactics that make them one of the least likely parties to start throwing mud over political fundraising.

In February 2012, the B.C. Liberals held what they called a “power lunch” for Surrey businesspeople who wanted to bring their “issues forward for discussion and response before the next election” with Minister of Open Government Margaret MacDiarmid.

And Liberal party donors get the message. Caught out on making prohibited donations to the B.C. Liberals, one of the party’s donors stated that the donations were made so that he could attend a handful of fundraising receptions in order to speak with Liberal MLAs Moira Stillwell, Richard Lee and Christy Clark. As the donor stated: “That’s the way the system works.”

Last year, the B.C. Liberal party was required to return $20,355 in prohibited donations it had collected, including $12,633 from Simon Fraser University, $300 from Vancouver-False Creek Liberal candidate Sam Sullivan’s Global Civic Policy Society, and $850 from the Prince George Airport Authority. The NDP didn’t report any donation returns in 2012.

From 2006 to 2011, the Liberals returned 22 prohibited donations from charities, while the NDP returned two. The Liberal party also reported remitting $4,920 to Elections BC in membership fees in its 2011 filing. This amount represents an estimated 492 incomplete membership applications, which were treated as prohibited contributions as well. The NDP did not report any incomplete membership applications in its party filings.

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For more information:
Dermod Travis, Executive Director