The initial reports sounded almost unbelievable – Peter Fassbender needed to spend almost $200,000 to win the Surrey-Fleetwood seat for the B.C. Liberals in the May provincial election.
The $192,974 figure overshadows the $67,800 spent by his chief rival, NDP incumbent Jagrup Brar. Fassbender won the seat by just 200 votes.
The amounts are contained in financial disclosure forms which must be submitted to Elections BC. They were released last week.
However, Fassbender actually spent considerably less than that amount. A deeper look into the forms shows that he actually spent about $137,000, with the campaign returning $55,814 to the B.C. Liberals after the election. Much of the financing for the campaign came from the provincial party, with $38,060 donated by individuals and businesses.
The Brar campaign, by contrast, received $14,653 in contributions, all but $750 from unions. The NDP and the local constituency association transferred $53,433 into the campaign.
Tim Binnema of the Green party spent just $1,641 on his campaign.
The big spending by the B.C. Liberals in Surrey was in Fleetwood. In most other Surrey ridings, the cost of individual campaigns by Liberal candidates was about $95,000.
That isn’t surprising. Fassbender was a late addition to the ticket, and while he had a high regional profile, he was the mayor of Langley City and was not from Surrey.
Nonetheless, his high profile and active campaigning, paid off for the B.C. Liberals, as he won the seat, to the surprise of many (myself included).
His win, and that of many other candidates, was proof of the rock solid campaign run by the party, which most observers had expected to go down to defeat.
Premier Christy Clark recruited a lot of well-known people to run for the party, such as Fassbender, and it paid off. The constant messaging that the B.C. Liberals were all about jobs, as opposed to an NDP campaign which wandered a fair bit, was a key factor as well. Fassbender felt the premier’s staying on message throughout the campaign was critical to him winning the Fleetwood seat.
Fassbender is now the minister of education, and as such is one of the highest-profile MLAs from Surrey in the legislature.
Thus far, he has been busy with education details, such as negotiating with teachers, but it is almost certain that he will be heavily involved in local issues such as transportation planning. He has a lot of expertise in that area, and that will be a hot topic in the coming months, as the province plans a referendum on TransLink funding options.
He is a hard worker and will certainly not be afraid to speak up for his constituents. It may have cost the party more to run his campaign, but it paid off for them.
Hopefully, his voice will be raised on many Surrey issues in the coming years, and voters in Surrey-Fleetwood will be happy with the choice they made.
Frank Bucholtz is the editor of The Langley Times. He writes weekly for The Leader.