B.C. taxpayers reimburse $4 million in party expenses from election campaign

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WatchB.C. taxpayers reimbursed political parties $4m in campaign expenses from the last election.

British Columbia taxpayers paid more than $4 million to cover the expenses of political parties in the snap provincial election called last year by Premier John Horgan, new figures show.

Elections B.C. released the election expenses Monday. Normally, they show how much political parties fundraised and spent in their campaigns. But parties and candidates are now also eligible to claim up to 50 per cent of their expenses for reimbursement from the province, as part of a 2018 law by the NDP government that banned corporate and union donations.

October’s provincial election was the first fought under the new fundraising and expense rules. Elections B.C. said it reimbursed almost $4 million total, including:

  • $300,744.59 to the B.C. Greens
  • $1,552,198.27 to the B.C. Liberals
  • $2,151,258.25 to the B.C. NDP

The funding is on top of more than $15 million paid out to political parties using a per-vote funding formula that was also part of the 2018 election finance reform law.

The per-vote subsidy is up for renewal next year. However, the clause that allows parties to expense up to 50 per cent of their campaign costs is permanent.

READ MORE: Premier John Horgan talks one-on-one with CHEK News

Under the law, parties can expense a wide variety of campaign costs, including staff pay, polling, advertising, signage and more. They aren’t allowed to expense donations or gifts, the cost of items sold for fundraising or any alcohol or cannabis.

Monday’s new figures also show how much the three main parties fundraised and spent in the campaign, which ran during September and October.

The B.C. Liberals are in the worst financial position, having fundraised just over $3.2 million, and spent almost $6.4 million. The party borrowed $3 million split across four separate banks. It has yet to pay back any of the money, according to the Elections B.C. reports.

The governing NDP, which faced criticism for political opportunism by calling the early election during the COVID-19 pandemic instead of waiting for the regularly-scheduled time a year later, raised almost $5.4 million and spent almost $7.6 million, including transfers to other candidates. The party borrowed $850,000 but paid it back almost immediately, according to the forms.

The B.C. Greens raised more than $1.2 million and spent almost $1.4 million, with no loans.

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Rob ShawRob Shaw

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