Charity Invites Liberal
Registered charities are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities. However, that didn't stop Volunteer Vancouver, a registered charity, from inviting B.C. Liberal candidate Virginia Greene to host its annual awards dinner on April 21 during a provincial election campaign. At the end of the night, Greene urged everyone to vote on May 17.
Volunteer Vancouver issued a news release that day quoting Greene and featuring an extensive biography, but it didn't mention her B.C. Liberal affiliation. Colleen Kelly, executive director of Volunteer Vancouver, told the Straight that Greene was invited to host the event last December, long before she declared her candidacy in Vancouver-Fairview. Kelly also praised Greene's extensive experience as a volunteer.
"We wrote the script, so the whole script was not in any way political," Kelly claimed on April 22. "We asked Virginia to acknowledge that there was an MLA, Lorne Mayencourt, and a city councillor, Peter Ladner, that were part of the audience last night."
Dawna LaBonté, a spokesperson for Canada Revenue Agency, told the Straight that federal privacy legislation prevented her from commenting directly about Volunteer Vancouver. LaBonté said that charities are permitted to devote up to 10 percent of their budgets to political activities, but added that they are banned from "partisan" politics.
The guest list included employees of several social-service agencies that have felt the brunt of B.C. Liberal cutbacks. Between 2001-02 and 2004-05, the Gordon Campbell government slashed the Ministry of Human Resources budget by $650 million and cut the Ministry of Children and Family Development by $55 million. There was also a $190-million reduction over the same period to the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women's Services.