B.C. political parties to get taxpayer funding under NDP donation ban

The Canadian Press

B.C.’s political parties will be in line for millions of dollars of taxpayer funding as one of the key changes to the province’s political fundraising laws.

The B.C. NDP unveiled sweeping new donation rules on Monday, including a ban on corporate and union donations, and a $1,200 cap on individual donations.

LISTEN: Jon McComb chats with columnist Mike Smyth about proposed changes
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With that scheme wiping out millions of dollars in funding to the parties, the B.C. NDP is also introducing a funding “allowance” from the province based on the number of votes each party received in the last election.

Over the next four years, that funding will cost taxpayers $16.35 million dollars.

READ MORE: B.C. NDP takes heat over prospect of donation ban delay

Under the province’s new formula, parties would be eligible for funding if they earned either two per cent of the vote province-wide, or five per cent of the vote in the ridings where they ran candidates.

The formula awards parties $2.50 per vote in 2018, $2.25 in 2019, $2 in 2020, and $1.75 in 2021 — the last year before the next provincial election.

In the 2017 election, the BC Greens won just over 332,00 votes, the BC NDP won just over 795,000 and the BC Liberals earned just under 797,000 votes.

If ratified, that would mean the new taxpayer funding would amount to a subsidy of $830,000 for the Greens next year, and about $1.99 million for the Liberals and NDP each next year.

READ MORE: NDP out-fundraising Liberals so far in 2017

Over four years, the Greens would stand to receive $2.82 million, the BC Liberals $6.77 million, and the BC NDP $6.76 million.

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Under the NDP’s new bill, parties will also be able to claim reimbursement for up to 50 per cent of their election expenses.

The NDP will also convene a special committee, which will conduct a review of the subsidy, and report on whether it should continue to be paid to parties beyond 2022.

“We did not take the approach of Ontario and Quebec of the ongoing subsidy for political parties. And yet we have the second lowest campaign donation limit in Canada,” said Attorney General David Eby.

BC Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson slammed the move, saying introducing the subsidy amounts to a broken promise by the NDP.

“They’ve broken another campaign promise saying they’d introduce an independent commission to review campaign financing, and they’ve abandoned that by just going ahead with a plan that suits their purposes,” he said.

BC Liberal interim leader Rich Coleman also took to Twitter to slam the move.

The concept is not new to Canadian politics. Federal parties had previously received a $2 per vote subsidy — a scheme that was eliminated by Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in 2011.

Elections BC, the agency that monitors provincial elections, reported the B.C. Liberal Party raised $13.1 million in 2016, while the NDP took in $6.2 million and the Greens raised $757,268.

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-With files from the Canadian Press

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