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BC Politics

NDP Raised $15.7 Million In Last Year of Wild West Fundraising

No regrets in limiting donations, says Horgan, despite out-earning Liberals.

Andrew MacLeod 12 Apr

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

In the year the NDP formed government and banned political donations from corporations and unions, the party also raised significantly more money than its competitors.

"No, I have no regrets," Premier John Horgan said this week. "The right thing to do was to get big money out of politics."

Annual financial reports released Monday show that in the 2017 election year, the NDP raised $15.3 million while the BC Liberal Party raised $12.7 million.

The NDP received $7 million from individuals, $4.5 million from unions and $3.6 million from corporations. Figures include both cash and in-kind donations of goods and services.

The largest contributions to the NDP came from the United Steelworkers union, which gave a total of $1.1 million through various affiliates. The Canadian Union of Public Employees gave $900,00 through various offices and locals. The BCGEU, which represents many provincial government employees, gave $454,000.

Meanwhile, the BC Liberal Party raised $6.9 million from corporations, $4.5 million from individuals and $38,000 from unions.

Large Liberal donors included Rick Ilich, who gave $100,000 as an individual and whose company Townline Homes gave another $112,500. Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Dennis (Chip) Wilson gave $107,500.

Some donors hedged their bets. The Aquilini Investment Group, for example, gave $100,000 each to the BC Liberals and NDP ahead of the election, plus another $50,000 to the NDP in the months after the party formed government.

The NDP fundraising advantage is a reversal from recent years. In 2013, the last year B.C. had an election, the BC Liberals raised $2.6 million more than the NDP. In 2014 the Liberals' fundraising haul was three times larger than the NDP's.

While in opposition, the NDP introduced bills to ban big money from provincial politics six times. None of the bills gained the support from the governing BC Liberals needed to pass them.

In September, with the support of the three BC Green Party MLAs, the NDP brought in a ban on corporate and union donations and capped individual contributions at $1,200. The new rules went into effect Nov. 30.

The bill also included about $28 million in public funding over four years for B.C.'s political parties.

"We had a very successful fundraising year, but the rules have changed," Horgan said Tuesday. "I'm proud to have worked with my colleagues in the Green caucus and in fact the entire legislature to finally end the Wild West of fundraising in British Columbia. I believe now people are back in the centre of our politics."

The BC Green Party raised $1.4 million in 2017, almost all of it from individuals. The party has had a policy since September 2016 not to take money from corporations or unions.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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