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Odd And Telling Political Donations In B.C.

04/17/2015 02:54 EDT | Updated 06/17/2015 05:59 EDT
Feng Yu via Getty Images

Children sing that "when you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are." By adulthood, most of us have given up on that idea and a few -- just to hedge their bets -- donate to political parties rather than testing their luck on a star. And that's what makes the annual financial reports from B.C.'s political parties so fascinating.

They may still be pipe dreams in the eyes of most, but that didn't stop pipeline proponents from donating generously to the B.C. Liberal party with donations from Kinder Morgan ($4,500), TransCanada Pipelines ($5,600), Coastal GasLink Pipeline ($12,500) and Enbridge Northern Gateway ($13,450).

In its debut on B.C.'s political donor chart, Woodfibre LNG started at $28,000 for the Liberals and $8,000 to the B.C. NDP, which almost seems like pocket change for owner Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto.

Knowing that seeing things clearly should be a job requirement for an MLA, the B.C. Association of Optometrists donated $2,820 to the NDP and $13,300 to Liberals.

In the "I gave at the office and that office and that office too" category, the Automotive Retailers Association gave $1,625 to the Liberals and the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. gave $80,977 (which is about what they've given to the NDP over the last ten years). New car dealers got in on the action as well, among them, Dueck on Marine ($8,200) and Northland Plymouth Chrysler ($5,000).

As they say, you can never have enough insurance, which may explain why the Insurance Bureau of Canada donated $29,750 to the Liberals.

The waste management industry stepped up, even though garbage -- sorry waste -- is a local government thing. Waste Management of Canada donated $1,500 to the Liberals, which seems paltry when you consider that BFI Canada had money to burn ($91,300) and Belkorp Environmental Services ($37,200). Bet it had something to do with that proposed $500 million incinerator in Metro Vancouver.

Defying conventional wisdom that there's no money in the newspaper business, the Alberta Newspaper Group donated $28,750 to the Liberals.

Beancounters came through for the Liberals with donations from Ernst & Young ($19,050), Deloitte ($39,900) and KPMG ($40,950). The B.C. Chicken Marketing Board ($500), B.C. Fresh Vegetables ($1,500) and the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association ($2,400) also had the Liberals' back.

Not wanting to feel anymore neglected by the B.C. government than they already do, the forestry industry stepped up with some hefty donations to the Liberals, including: Canfor ($50,000), Western Forest Products ($29,000), West Fraser Mills ($39,850) and Tolko ($18,150).

Liquor stores upped their stake with the Liberals big-time. In 2013, liquor stores made seven donations to the Liberals totalling $24,500 and nine to the NDP ($10,750). Last year, 34 donations to the Liberals totalling $87,419 and two to the NDP ($1,500). You might almost think the B.C. government was reviewing its liquor policies.

Duty free shops were also big on the Liberals donating $18,600, with Douglas Crossing Duty Free topping the list at $8,000.

The BC Lions ($15,750) remain Liberal cheerleaders, which is about $2,000 shy of what they paid B.C. Place Stadium in 2007 to play a regular season home game, the only year where numbers are publicly available.

The NDP weren't required to return any donations that are prohibited under the act, but the Liberals had to return 11, including $600 from Multi-Material B.C. and $2,000 from the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council.

And the 2014 Award for Incredibly Bad Taste in Donations goes to Imperial Metals, owners of the Mount Polley mine.

The spill may have been toxic, but Imperial's cash wasn't. The mining company donated $7,150 to the Liberals, including a $1,500 cheque in October and another for $250 in November.

Those last two might have been better put to cleaning up the spill rather than currying political favour. Hey, here's an idea: the Liberals could turn the money over to local efforts at coping with the spill's aftermath. Just thinking out loud.

Finally -- for those trying hard not to keep track -- the Liberals have raised $96.8 million since 2005, the NDP $40.2 million, the Green party $1.6 million and the B.C. Conservatives $1.5 million.

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