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NPA and Vision Vancouver close in polls and in fundraising

11/07/2014 10:04 EST | Updated 01/07/2015 05:59 EST
All of Vancouver's major civic parties have now  revealed their list of campaign donations with the Non Partisan Association making its list public on Friday.

The NPA did not separate its list into corporate, union and individual donors. Vision Vancouver did.

The NPA says it raised a total of $2.1 million from January to November, just under the $2.25 million raised by Vision Vancouver.  

The two parties are also neck-and-neck in the election race separated by only a few percentage points according to an internal Vision Vancouver poll which put Vision ahead, but only sightly.

The largest single donation made to any of the civic parties is the $360,000 given to the NPA by the Great Canadian Railtour Company, which is owned by NPA president Peter Armstrong.

Armstrong says the size of his donation is actually a little larger.

"Of all the different entities that I'm involved in, approximately $470,000 has been donated to this campaign as of January 1st," said Armstrong.

Despite the hefty donation, NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe says he's told Armstrong and others he is beholden to no one and made that clear when he accepted the candidacy.

Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson claims these kinds of large donations show a lack of broad support.

"It fits the pattern of the NPA being funded by a few men, given a developer contribution of $960,000 in the last election and $400,000 plus from Mr. Armstrong this time," he said.

Simon Fraser University political scientist Patrick Smith says early disclosure is good, but the lists themselves show a serious need for reform.

"I would say there is far too much money awash in our system that is unregulated," he said. "We have a legislative committee that's actually in Vancouver this week with hearings looking at how they might be able to get a bit of a handle on it."

Smith says even though the amount of money raised is nearly the same, the lists are still revealing.

"The NPA donors look a little better-heeled in terms of their contributions. They have the largest contribution at about $360,000," said Smith. "

"The largest Vision contribution was about $150,000 from the main CUPE branch. There are about 60 [NPA] people who gave more than $25,000, which is a fair number, and 100 who gave more than $!,000." 

"Looking at the Vision list, there were more small donors in that crowd."

Smith says B.C. is still the wild west when it comes to election financing. He says one way to regulate it would be to ban corporate and union donations, but while it's been suggested provincially, he says no one's ever been able to implement it.

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