Democracy Watch cofounder says high donation limit facilitates bundlers who raise funds for candidates

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      In light of a recent Globe and Mail article and the Straight's own inquiries, it's increasingly clear that a fundraising document found on a sidewalk is linked to Mayor Kennedy Stewart's reelection campaign.

      He's running with a slate called Forward Vancouver.

      The spreadsheet listed 26 development and real-estate senior executives who were each tasked with raising many thousands of dollars.

      It was discovered outside a No Frills store by homeless writer Stanley Q. Woodvine; the fundraisers were identified as "captains".

      The cofounder of Ottawa-based Democracy Watch, Duff Conacher, has a different name for these types of party fundraisers.

      He calls them "bundlers", noting that there is no requirement for people who raise money for candidates to disclose their activities.

      "The same thing has happened federally and in every jurisdiction across Canada that has banned corporate and union donations and set a sham individual donation limit of about $1,000 or more," Conacher maintained in an email to the Straight.

      Democracy Watch has listed examples in a document on its website.

      Under B.C. law, individuals can contribute up to $1,250 to a municipal political campaign each year.

      Conacher declared that "unfortunately, it is legal to fundraise in this way—except at the federal level where rules in the Lobbyists’ Code prohibit it, but the Commissioner of Lobbying is proposing right now to gut those rules".

      "All such a high individual donation limit does is hide who is behind big money, it doesn’t stop big money, as the executives and employees of big businesses and other organizations and their family members each donate the maximum amount allowed," he continued. "If any executives or employees are not publicly identified with the business or organization, or if their family members all have different last names, it makes it very difficult to connect donations to any business or organization."  

      He thinks the best remedy is to limit individual donations to $100 to prevent bundlers from having "undue, unethical influence".

      "Quebec's law is the model for all of Canada with its $100 limit, including that if you donate more than $50 you have to send it to Elections Quebec which verifies that it is your money," Conacher stated.

      "It has some flaws, as the annual per-vote funding amount is too high as it allows the parties to prosper financially even if they break their election promises or lose touch with voters between elections, but it is still much better than any other jurisdiction in Canada."

      On September 14, TEAM for a Livable Vancouver called on Elections BC to investigate the fundraising list that Woodvine had revealed a day earlier on his Twitter feed.

      These are the people on the list who are associated with the real-estate sector:

      The captains include many Vancouver developers and real-estate executives, such as:

      Arnold Silber, president, Value Property Group ($4,000 donations, $25,000 goal)

      Terry Hui, CEO, Concord Pacific ($8,200 donations, $31,250 goal)

      Daisen Gee-Wing, senior vice president, Canadian Metropolitan Properties ($1,200 donations, $12,500 goal)

      Jim Szabo, vice chairman capital markets, CBRE ($1,250 donations, $12,500 goal)

      Joe Carreira, vice president development, Conwest Group of Companies ($1,765 donations, goal $12,500)

      Jon Stovell, president and CEO, Reliance Properties Ltd. ($2,500 donations, goal $12,500)

      Leon Bogner, principal and founder, Bogner Development Group ($1,250 donations, goal $5,000)

      Tony Hepworth, president and CEO, the Pennyfarthing Group ($2,500 donations, goal $5,000)

      Anthony Pappajohn, partner in Jameson Development Corp. ($6,250 donations, goal $25,000)

      Colin Bosa/Jeff Skinner, CEO and senior vice president, Bosa Properties ($15,000 donations, goal $37,500)

      Ian Gillespie, founder of Westbank Projects Corp. ($2,400 donations, goal $25,000)

      Beau Jarvis, president, Wesgroup Properties ($1,812 donations, goal $37,500)

      Kerry Bonnis, partner, Bonnis Properties ($3,750 donations, goal $25,000)

      Sam Hanson, president, South Street Development Managers Ltd. ($2,500 donations, goal $18,750) 

      Bob Rennie, founder, Rennie Marketing Systems ($12,500 donations, goal $12,500)

      Brent Sawchyn, principal, PC Urban Properties Corp. ($11,639 donations, goal $18,750)

      Dak Molnar, principal, The Molnar Group Real Estate Inc. ($11,200 donations, goal $25,000)

      Duncan Wlodarczak, chief of staff, Onni Group of Companies ($9,999 donations, goal $25,000)

      Evan Allegretto, president, Intracorp Homes ($12,456 donations, goal $12,500)

      Francesco Aquilini, partner, Aquilini Investment Group ($64,300 donations, goal $110,000)

      Raymond Louie, chief operating officer, Coromandel Properties Ltd. ($2,500 donations, goal $25,000)

      Stepan Vdovine, director, business development and corporate affairs, Amacon ($12,424 donations, goal $18,750)

      Wayne Pai, vice president, development, Landa Global Properties ($22,489 donations, goal $36,000)

      David Negrin, CEO, MST Development ($2,500 donations, goal $5,000) 

      David Wesik, president of Third Space Properties ($2,500 donations, goal $5,000)

      Paul Faibish, senior vice president, development, QuadReal ($2,499 donations, goal $12,500)

      In May, Faibish joined QuadReal, which was launched in 2016 by a provincial Crown corporation, B.C. Investment Management Corporpation. Prior to that, he was senior vice president, development at Anthem Properties.