Wednesday, April 19, 2017

China and Trudeau are behind Christy Clark getting re-elected for BC Canada

The ‘best government money can buy’: How B.C.’s donor system is at odds with most of Canada


 |  | Last Updated: Mar 7 3:28 PM ET
More from Zane Schwartz | @ZaneSchwartz
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In the run-up to the May 9 provincial election, the B.C. Liberals are counting on big money to help bring them a win, despite Premier Christy Clark’s repeated claims to the contrary.
Clark has steadfastly defended her province’s political donation system, which has no limit on donation size and permits people who don’t live in B.C. — and even those who don’t live in Canada — to donate. The Western province is a significant outlier compared with the rest of Canada. The federal government and most other provinces have strict donation caps and only allow Canadians to contribute.
A National Post analysis of B.C. political donations from 2005 to 2017 found that 25.12 per cent of donations to the Liberal party come from those giving $20,000 or more. Over half of all money raised by the Liberals, or 54.05 per cent, comes from donations over $5,000. During a similar period (2005 to 2016), 19.59 per cent of the B.C. NDP’s money came from donations over $20,000, and 30.45 per cent came from donations over $5,000.
Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian PressB.C. Premier Christy Clark arrives to take part in the Meeting of First Ministers in Ottawa on December 9, 2016. Clark will still be in a conflict of interest even though she's rejected her party's annual stipend, suggests a group that's been critical of political fundraising in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick ORG XMIT: CPT101
With no caps, some donors in the province show great largesse. The Wall family donated over $400,000 to the Liberals in 2016 alone. Real estate magnate Peter Wall, and his nephew Bruno Wall also contributed to Christy Clark’s leadership race in 2011, and have been big donors since then. Bruno Wall did not reply to a request for comment.
B.C. has a best-government-money-can-buy political donations system that violates the key democratic principle of one-person, one-vote
The NDP’s largest donations come from unions. The biggest donor was the B.C. Government and Services Employees Union, which gave $2.18 million between 2005 and 2015, followed by United Steelworkers at $1.67 million.
“B.C. has a best-government-money-can-buy political donations system that violates the key democratic principle of one-person, one-vote, because it allows businesses, unions and other interest groups, and wealthy individuals, even from other countries, to make donations that are much larger than an average voter can afford,” said Duff Conacher, co-founder of the advocacy group Democracy Watch, which has repeatedly challenged the Liberal’s fundraising practices in court.
In contrast with Clark, NDP leader John Horgan has promised to ban union and corporate donations if he wins the province’s May 9 election. If those donations are eliminated it would help the NDP level the playing field: they may rely on unions for their money, but the amount that corporations give to the Liberals is significantly higher.
Darryl Dyck / Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck / Canadian PressBritish Columbia NDP leader John Horgan listens to a question during a news conference in Vancouver, on Feb. 2, 2017.
The NDP raised $42 million from 304,336 donations. The Liberals raised $46 million from just 2,210 donations, many of them from corporations, of $10,000 or more. All told, the Liberals raised $119 million from 94,848 donations. In other words, the NDP have brought in three times the number of donations but one-third the amount of money.
Asked whether he thinks the average British Columbian can afford a $5,000 donation (over half their money comes from donations of $5,000 or more), B.C. Liberals communications director Emile Scheffel said the party has been trying to expand their grassroots donor base since Christy Clark became leader
“For donations under $100, we received more than 9,000 in 2016, compared to just 3,592 in 2005. And in 2016, we had over 9,400 individual (non-corporate, non-union) donors, compared to 5,254 in 2005,” said Scheffel.
Scheffel also pointed to the many British Columbians who gave donations of $50 and under in 2016. According to donation records posted on the Liberal party’s website they received 4,564 donations ranging from $5 to $50 in 2016. All those donations combined brought in a total of $159,300. Several individuals gave more money than that to the party on their own. For example, real estate magnate Peter Redekop gave a quarter of a million dollars in 2016: $50,000 on Jan. 15, $100,000 on Feb. 26 and another $100,000 on Dec. 19. Redekop did not reply to a request for comment.
The National Post analyzed all donation information for the NDP and the Liberals recorded by Elections British Columbia from 2005 to 2016. In addition, the analysis includes all 2016 donations and 2017 donations to the Liberal Party, up to February 24, 2017. The Liberal party makes those donations public on their party website.
Overall, the Liberals attract a fraction of the small-dollar donations that the NDP do — 64 per cent of all the NDP’s donations come from people giving under $50. That number is 9.7 per cent for the Liberals.
In any other province they’d be screaming bloody murder over this.
The National Post analysis shows the average Liberal donation in B.C. is $1,260.80, about nine times more than the NDP’s $139.06. And while the vast majority — 87 per cent — of the NDP’s donations come from those giving under $200, that number is just 29 per cent for the Liberals.
Dermod Travis, executive director of the advocacy group Integrity BC, says the Liberals actually rely on a much smaller pool of wealthy donors then the data show, because people can give multiple times through different corporations they own. For example, property developer Aquilinis gave the Liberals $1.43 million through 24 companies and individuals over the past 12 years. Looked at individually, each of those 24 donors appear to be relatively small contributors. Collectively, they’re the second largest donor to the Liberals since 2005.
“These numbers show who really has influence in B.C. Clark clearly thinks voters won’t care. Maybe she’s right, but in any other province they’d be screaming bloody murder over this,” said Travis.
Christy Clark is not the only Canadian politician to face a backlash over fundraising. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent much of the past year being criticized on the issue.
Jonathan Hayward / Canadian Press
As a result of growing criticism of their donation practices, the B.C. Liberals now disclose their donations on their party website. Elections B.C. maintains a searchable database that allows the public to look up who the largest donors are and when they donated. Eventually, that database will be updated with 2016 and 2017 numbers, but for now that information is only available on the Liberal party’s website, and only in PDF format, which is not searchable. The NDP have not made their full 2016 (Elections B.C. has data up to February 2, 2016) or 2017 data publicly available.
The National Post is publishing the Liberals’ 2016 and 2017 donations in a searchable database, allowing members of the public to search by donor name, donation amount or date of donation.
Looking through the 2016-2017 database some interesting details emerge. For example, on February 26, 2016, the Liberals raised $1.6 million in a single day, representing about 14 per cent of the $12 million they raised in all of 2016. About half of that money came from two families who are large property developers in the province: the Redekops gave $300,000 — $200,000 through John Redekop Construction, and $100,000 from Peter Redekop; the Walls gave $400,000 —$200,000 through 2300 Kingsway Residences and $100,000 each from BJW Investments and PWO investments.
In 2016, the Liberals brought in significant sums from numbered corporations whose ownership structures are sometimes opaque. For example, 6349099 Canada Ltd. donated $33,000, and 0744625 B.C. Ltd. donated $30,000.
If the NDP win the provincial election on May 9 they intend to ban numbered corporations from donating.