Today’s Poll

Big money's last hurrah

Dermod Travis
By Dermod Travis
April 19th, 2018

The big money party is over and what a party it was. Given its well-deserved reputation in B.C. it’s fitting that it went out with a bang in 2017.

First, though, a walk down memory lane for an appreciation of its shock and awe legacy on B.C. politics.

Between 2005 and 2017, B.C.’s political parties reported $206.9 million in donations ($250+), with the B.C. Green party raking in $4.3 million, the B.C. NDP ($63 million) and the B.C. Liberal party ($132 million). Trade unions accounted for $20.6 million of the haul, individuals ($74.9 million) and corporations ($90.4 million), with the balance split among unincorporated businesses and non-profits.

The Liberals brought in another $7.9 million in donations under $250 and the NDP $18 million.

The United Steelworkers Union was the top donor at $3.35 million (all to the NDP), while Teck Resources was runner-up with $2.6 million to the Liberals and $112,230 to the NDP.

The award for most generous sector goes to the real estate industry at more than $27 million.

Together, the B.C. Real Estate Association, three industry-related firms and 42 property developers accounted for $23 million of the $27 million.

Befitting its reputation, 2017 was par for the course.

The Green party raised $1.44 million and all of it from individuals. It’s largest donor was former candidate Jerry Kroll at $29,190. The party ended the year with a $206,951 surplus.

The Liberal party pulled in $13 million. There was a four-way tie for largest donation at $100,000 between Aquilini Investment Group, Townline Homes, Rick Ilich and Chip Wilson. It ended the year in the red by $7.4 million.

The NDP was tops in the fundraising department at $15.4 million, with the United Steelworkers cutting the largest cheque at $500,000. The party ended 2017 with an $820,470 surplus.

Perhaps hoping for a friendly ear from the new government – and not quite certain which party it would be after May 9 – left a few donors in a quandary and two parties the beneficiaries.

The Liberals raised $3.2 million from corporations post-election, more than $1.1 million of it from 13 property developers.

Companies controlled by UK-based billionaire Murray Edwards donated $48,900 to the Liberals, including $11,900 from Imperial Metals owner of the Mount Polley Mine.

When the government changed hands, though, something funny happened on the way to the bank. Turns out quite a few traditional Liberal party donors were no longer that party’s best friends forever.

The New Car Dealers Association donated $90,050 to the Liberals in 2017 and $55,500 to the NDP, but only after it had assumed power.

In the preceding 12 years, the association donated $1.3 million to the Liberals and $82,790 to the NDP.

Site C contractor-to-be Aecon ($5,000) made its first-ever appearance on a NDP donor list.

The NDP went on the political fundraising equivalent of a pub crawl on Sept. 21 reporting $579,500 in donations from the booze industry.

The party brought in more than $700,000 from property developers – $500,130 from 10 families alone – but unlike the crawl, no one date jumps out. The results seem more like a family-by-family affair.

Hoping for the best, companies in the oil and gas industry pumped more than $64,000 into the party’s coffers, including: Encana ($30,525), Woodfibre LNG ($6,850) and Conocophillips ($1,050).

Kinder Morgan doesn’t appear on the NDP’s list.

The NDP raised more than $126,000 from trade associations, including the Insurance Bureau of Canada ($21,200), the Progressive Contractors Association ($5,000) and the Victoria Harbour Authority ($500).

Even the slots paid off for the NDP with $68,483 in donations from B.C. casinos.

Despite tabling a bill on Sept. 18 to ban corporate and union donations, both the NDP and Liberals continued the practice till “big money’s” final breath, pulling in just shy of $3.2 million between them.

Conspicuous by his absence from any list was “Condo King” Bob Rennie ($305,550), a faithful Liberal donor since 2007, while another donor returned to the Liberal fold, former premier Christy Clark ($340).

Almost fittingly – given its 2017 fundraising results – one of the NDP donors was Superachievers Financial ($1,250) and, perhaps, having run a $7.4 million deficit, a donation from Finale Editworks ($1,500) might not be a good omen for the Liberals.

RIP, big money. You won’t be missed.


Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.


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