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Clark says Liberals can fight election without new debt

The British Columbia Liberal Party does not plan to take on debt during the current election campaign, says leader Christy Clark.

In 2009's winning campaign under former leader Gordon Campbell, the party finished $2.6 million in the hole after fundraising failed to cover the full $12.1 million the party spent, according to their election financing report filed with Elections BC. At election end the Liberals owed $5 million, divided equally between CIBC, the Bank of Nova Scotia, the Royal Bank of Canada and TD Canada Trust.

This year, with polls suggesting the Liberals are likely to lose and with probable premier Adrian Dix pledging to ban donations from corporations and unions, there's been a question in political circles about whether the Liberals would again borrow to finance their campaign and whether they would be able to find lenders willing to take a chance on them.

"We had our most successful non-election fundraising year in 2012," Clark said this week when The Tyee asked whether the party would take on election debt. "We've been very successful in getting the support that we need to run an election campaign. I think the answer to that is 'no.'"

According to the BC Liberal's 2012 financial report, the party finished the year with an accumulated surplus of $2.3 million. The results of fundraising since Jan. 1 won't be reported until after the election.

Comparatively, the NDP spent $6.2 million on the 2009 campaign and came away with a deficit of $860,000. It owed a total of $2.01 million to the Coastal Community Credit Union and Coastal Savings.

An NDP spokesperson did not respond by publication time to questions about plans for financing the current campaign.

The NDP's 2012 financial report shows it had a $1.7 million accumulated surplus. The party owed $460,000 to Community Savings to be paid by Feb. 2, 2013. It had also taken a $575,000 loan from Vancity and had borrowed $13,600 against a $500,000 credit facility from Vancity. Both debts to Vancity are due in December, 2017.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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