Column: Who’s paying the most to play in B.C.’s political sandbox?

The 2015 political donations were out last week and they contained some numbers that should cause a bit of unease.

The 2015 political donations were out last week and they contained some numbers that should cause a bit of unease. It’s not just the amounts that are of interest but the running totals as well.

Since 2005, the BC Liberal party has raised more than $107.8 million, $70.2 million of it from businesses and corporations, while the B.C. NDP has collected $55.9 million, with $38 million coming from individuals and $11.6 million from unions.

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The BC Liberals’ Million Dollar Club has grown. Five companies and one association have now donated more than $1 million to the party, including EnCana ($1.1 million), the Aquilini Group ($1.2 million) and Teck Resources ($2.3 million). The party’s top ten donors have given in excess of $11.7 million.

The Bank of China gave $388 to the BC 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 BC Liberals and $31,425 to the NDP.

Since 2014, three players in B.C.’s burgeoning LNG industry came through with $94,650 for the BC Liberals and two with $15,850 for the NDP — I guess the BC Liberals got first dibs on building a LNG prosperity fund.

Seven players with a keen eye for public-private partnerships (P3) opportunities donated $310,690. Ten of the construction companies that 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.”

The developers behind Vancouver’s Trump Tower, the Holborn Group, donated $25,000 to the BC Liberals last year and its sister company, TA Management, gave $25,000. Both companies are part of Malaysian-based TA Global.

Since 2005, property developers have donated more than $10.7 million to the BC Liberals (including $1.55 million in personal donations), or roughly 10% of the party’s total $107.8-million haul.

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 big brewers gave $153,779 to the BC Liberals and $35,525 to the NDP; Ontario’s Beer Store, $96,974 ($6,670 to NDP), 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 donated $35.7 million and they’re not the BC Liberals’ top 193 donors. Knock off the 104 smallest and 89 donors gave $31.8 million to the Libs.

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 BC Liberals raised $37.6 million from individuals and the NDP $39.7 million, both more than the Alberta PCs raised in total. The provincial Liberals have deposited enough to cover what their Quebec counterpart and its 125 candidates spent in the 2014 election 18 times over — and Quebec has six million voters, nearly double the number in B.C.

Oh, and there are 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.

--Dermod Travis is executive director of IntegrityBC.

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