Dermod Travis: A staggering amount of money is helping to elect B.C. MLAs
The 2015 political donations were out this week and they contained some numbers that should cause a bit of unease. It's not just the amounts that are of interest, it's the running totals as well.
Since 2005, the B.C. Liberal party has raised more than $107.8 million—$70.2 million of that from businesses and corporations. The B.C. NDP, $55.9 million, with $38 million coming from individuals and $11.6 million from unions.
The Liberal party's Million Dollar Club has grown.
Five companies and one association have now donated more than $1 million to the party, including EnCana Corporation ($1.1 million), the Aquilini Group ($1.2 million), and Teck ($2.3 million).
The party's top 10 donors have given in excess of $11.7 million.
Party executive director Laura Miller gave $2,520 in 2015, Deputy Premier Rich Coleman $300, and Premier Christy Clark $0.
Clark has donated $1,400 since 2005, Gordon Campbell $4,750.
The Bank of China gave $388 to the B.C. Liberal party in 2015. Seven banks topped that up by $799,000 over the past 11 years, including CIBC ($245,410) and TD Bank ($130,440).
B.C. credit unions got into the spirit of giving too, contributing $163,448 to the B.C. Liberals and $31,425 to the NDP.
Lobbyists opened their wallets
You can always count on lobbyists to come through in a pinch.
They've donated more than $1.1 million to the B.C. Liberals, $80,629 to the NDP, and $1,000 to the B.C. Green party.
Patrick Kinsella's empire has given $271,266 to the Liberals, which exceeds Earnscliffe ($133,000) and Hill & Knowlton ($72,380).
Over seven years as an MLA, John Les donated $1,964 to the Liberals. In two years as a lobbyist, he's given $6,880.
Since 2014, three players in B.C.'s burgeoning LNG industry came through with $94,650 for the B.C. Liberals and two with $15,850 for the NDP.
Guess the B.C. Liberals got first dibs on building a prosperity fund from LNG.
Seven players with a keen eye for good public-private partnerships (P3) opportunities donated $310,690.
Borealis Infrastructure—part of OMERS Ontario municipal-employee pension plan—bought $8,000 worth of seats at B.C. Liberal party fundraisers, bringing its total to $73,200 worth of seats, plus $17,150 in benches from the NDP.
According to OMERS policy, Borealis can't make political donations, but it can buy seats and benches.
Ten of the construction companies who do the heavy lifting for the P3 number crunchers donated $674,000, including Ledcor ($257,850), Kiewit ($105,975), PCL ($141,879) and Emil Anderson Construction ($52,910).
Coincidentally, Emil Anderson was awarded a $36-million contract by the B.C. government last month “for the second phase of six-laning on Highway 97 through Kelowna”.
Lawyers, developers, and railways also contribute
Texas-based Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway donated $7,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2015. CN Rail has given $295,760 over 11 years, and CP Rail contributed $136,782.
Twenty-one law firms gave $1.35 million to the Liberals, not including donations from partners and associates.
Fasken Martineau Dumoulin was tops at $356,760.
The developers behind Vancouver's Trump Tower—the Holborn Group—donated $25,000 to the B.C. Liberals last year and its sister company, TA Management, gave $25,000.
Both companies are part of Malaysian-based TA Global Berhad.
Since 2005, property developers have donated more than $10.7 million to the B.C. Liberals, including $1.55 million in personal donations, or roughly 10 percent of the party's total $107.8-million haul.
The B.C. Liberals received $427,706 from trade associations in 2015 and the NDP collected $44,805.
Since 2005, the largest for both was the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. with $1.15 million for the B.C. Liberals and $82,790 for the NDP.
The B.C. Salmon Farmers Association has given $38,225 to the B.C. Liberals and $11,650 to the NDP.
Since 2005, the B.C. Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association has donated $147,639 to the B.C. Liberals and $2,500 to the NDP; the Christian Labour Association of Canada gave $2,780 to the Liberals.
The B.C. Liberals are also accepting donations from casinos.
In 2015, Gateway Casinos gave $67,397 to the B.C. Liberals, Great Canadian Gaming donated $31,468, and its subsidiary, River Rock Casino, contributed $3,300.
If you've got this far, you may want to crack open a cold one and consider that over the last 11 years Canada's national brewers gave $153,779 to the B.C. Liberals and $35,525 to the NDP. Here are the other numbers: Ontario's Beer Store $96,974 ($6,670), Labatt $159,366 ($30,550) and Molson $121,257 ($24,225).
The donations of 193 companies and individuals were considered for this column. Together they gave $35.7 million and they're not the B.C. Liberal party's top 193 donors.
Knock off the 104 smallest and 89 donors gave $31.8 million to the Liberals.
In the same period of time, the Alberta Progressive Conservatives raised $31.75 million from all its donors (corporate, individual and union).
What would B.C. parties be left with if there was a total ban on corporate and union donations?
Over 11 years, the Liberals raised $37.6 million from individuals and the NDP $39.7 million, both more than the Alberta PCs raised in total.
The B.C. Liberal party has deposited enough to cover what its Quebec counterpart and its 125 candidates spent in the 2014 election 18 times over. Quebec has six million voters, nearly double the number in B.C.
Oh, there's likely still four seats for sale at the premier's table later this month in Prince George for the party's annual dinner. They can be had for $25,000 a pair.