NDP Leader John Horgan is given a tour of the store during a campaign stop at 88 Supermarket in Vancouver, Oct. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

NDP Leader John Horgan is given a tour of the store during a campaign stop at 88 Supermarket in Vancouver, Oct. 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. political parties reap more millions from public subsidy

NDP, B.C. Liberals, Greens get half of election expenses back

Calling a snap election in October 2020 netted Premier John Horgan’s B.C. NDP more than $2 million in election expense reimbursements, while the B.C. Liberals collected more than $1.5 million and the B.C. Greens got back more than $300,000.

Election expense reimbursements are on top of the per-vote subsidy paid to parties each year in a program brought in by Horgan’s minority government in 2017, to replace revenue from corporate and union donations. Those were banned by the NDP changes, and Horgan’s pre-election vow not to use public subsidies was reversed after the election, in a bill that ended up being supported by all parties.

Financing reports released Monday by Elections B.C. showed the governing NDP received $2.15 million in reimbursed expenses. The party received $5.45 million in political contributions, but with the taxpayer subsidy, the party was able to spend $7.6 million to win a majority government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The B.C. Liberals were reimbursed $1.55 million in election expenses, and collected $3.2 million in contributions from individuals, which are capped at $1,200 per person per year under the 2017 changes to the B.C. Election Act. Including transfers of public money, the B.C. Liberals spent $6.37 million in an election that saw them take 28 seats to the B.C. NDP’s 57-seat majority.

The B.C. Green Party was reimbursed $300,774.59 for its election expenses, after raising $1.24 million in donations from individuals. The new financing system allowed them to spend $1.41 million on their 2020 election campaign, where the two incumbent MLAs, Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau and Saanich and the Islands MLA Adam Olsen retained their seats.

RELATED: B.C. NDP got more donations, votes in snap election

RELATED: Taxpayers funding ‘lawn signs, junk mail, attack ads’

The per-vote subsidy began in 2018 at $2.50 per vote won in the 2017 election, paid to parties that received at least five per cent of the vote in seats where they ran candidates, or two per cent of the vote overall. The 2017 legislation set out a five-year transition program for parties, with the per-vote payment declining to $2 for 2020 and $1.75 for this year and 2022. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimated the program will transfer $27 million to eligible parties over five years.

On Jan. 1, 2021, each party received its latest instalment of the per-vote allowance, totalling about $787,000 for the NDP, $557,000 for the B.C. Liberals and $249,000 for the B.C. Greens. Two more parties qualified for payments based on the results of the October election, with the B.C. Conservative Party receiving $31,414.25 and the Rural B.C. Party getting $659.75.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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