Odd, outlandish and over-the-top donations to B.C. political parties

Sports teams, casino owners among those who bet on BC Liberals beating the NDP in the 2013 provincial election

By Dermod Travis

So 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 moola 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 $12,500.

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. Greens $645.

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.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Left, Rowena Leivo early on in her volunteer career with the South Surrey/White Rock Food Bank. Right, Leivo in the food bank Tuesday. (Contributed photos)
After 34 years, ‘The Boss’ retires from South Surrey Food Bank volunteer gig

Rowena Leivo, 90, spent a third of her life volunteering at the food bank

Do you have someone you would like to thank? Or maybe something to get off your chest? Email your rose or rotten tomato to edit@surreynowleader.com.
Roses and Rotten Tomatoes (Oct. 22, 2020)

Our weekly collection of compliments and complaints sent in by readers

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
Bill Fraser Health for excessive mental-health-related police time at White Rock hospital: top cop

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Diamond School in Surrey reporting COVID-19 exposure

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

The website Chigoby is among eight scam online retailers that have been identified by the Better Business Bureau. The site was fraudulently using an Abbotsford residential address, but has since switched to one in Poland.
8 scam online-shopping websites fraudulently use Abbotsford address

Better Business Bureau says victims lost hundreds for non-existent or poor-quality products

Most Read