outlandish and over-the-top political donations'
Released by Dermod Travis,
what does a Conservative party senator from Ontario, the Toronto Blue Jays,
an Ontario public sector union and a part-owner of the Calgary Flames all
have in common? If their chequebook is any indication, they have a keen
interest in B.C. politics.
Ontario Senator Nancy Ruth donated $5,000
to the B.C. Green party in 2013, the Blue Jays passed the mitt round
the dugout to scrape up $300 for the B.C. Liberal party, CUPE
Ontario gave $500 to the B.C. NDP and Allan Markin, part-owner of
the Calgary Flames, gave $100,000 to the B.C. Liberals.
Who knew folk outside B.C. cared so much?
All of this is gleaned from that annual rite of spring: the
financial filings of B.C.'s political parties. Each April, B.C.'s
registered political parties file their annual reports, offering a
glimpse at how the parties are funded and how they spend that money.
Most donors to B.C.'s main political parties can be lumped into a
few broad categories.
There's the 'boy, that's not a shock' donor group, donations such as
the B.C. Federation of Labour's $110,401 to the B.C. NDP or the
BCGEU's $421,802. Although, it may shock a few that the BCTF didn't
give to the NDP in 2013. It's a long-standing practice of the BCTF
not to donate to political parties of any stripe.
There's the what-ever-were-they-thinking-when-they-signed-that-cheque
donor. Like the $10,000 donation that Toronto-based Postmedia, owner
of the Vancouver Sun and Province, made to the Liberals.
Then there's the 'we've got money to burn' donor crowd.
West Fraser Mills gave $99,495 to the Liberals and $500 to the NDP.
West Fraser was one of two forestry companies recently caught
cutting healthy timber meant for future harvests when they were
supposed to be harvesting dead and dying pine.
The company could have faced a hefty fine, but after assuring the
minister in the strongest of all possible terms that it would never
ever happen again, scout's honour, they walked away with a slap on
the wrist, as did the other company involved Jimmy Pattison's Canfor.
Calgary-based Burnco Rock Products donated $34,000 to the Liberals,
bringing their eight year running total to $219,700.
Presumably with a sharp eye on the polls "and after years of giving
exclusively to the Liberals" they finally found some moolah for the
NDP. But talk about cutting it close. With just a week to spare
before voting day, Burnco cut two cheques to the NDP totalling
Burnco has big plans for a large scale gravel mine at McNab Creek at
the northern end of Howe Sound. If it gets the green light, it'll
crush and process gravel 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
And even though it's hard at work trying to meet the 209 conditions
of the Joint Review Panel, Northern Gateway Pipelines still found
time to cut seven cheques totalling $23,050 to the Liberals.
The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. gave $180,000 to the
Liberals, bringing their nine year benevolence to $1,061,527.
Coincidentally, the only major tax change that survived the
transition from the HST to the PST was the 12 per cent sales tax on
vehicles sold privately, as in not from a dealer's lot.
RCI Capital gave $6,000 to the Liberals. That's the company that
once had a subsidiary that Premier Christy Clark was once chair of
but according to her never once worked for and was never paid for
not doing any of that work.
The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation gave $24,080 to the NDP, but
not so much as a poker chip to the Liberals.
That may be the result of the Liberals choosing not to accept money
from gambling companies at least directly. However, owners are a
different matter. Prince George resident John S. Major gave $60,000
to the Liberals last year, bringing his six year total to $269,390.
That's a lot of chips. Major owns the Treasure Cove Casino.
Who knew that professional sports teams were political junkies as
well? In addition to the Blue Jays, the Vancouver Giants gave the
B.C. Liberals $300, the Vancouver Whitecaps gave $2,500 and the BC
Lions forked out $13,150. No doubt about who they were cheering for.
And who was the fairest "or most generous" leader of them all in
2013? John Cummins hands down. He gave the B.C. Conservatives
$8,260. Adrian Dix gave the NDP $1,775 and Jane Sterk gave the B.C.
Christy Clark? Well her name doesn't actually appear on the list of
donors who gave the Liberals more than $250 in 2013.
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.
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