B.C.’s system of individual donations and millions in public subsidies worked well for John Horgan and the NDP, which raised $800,000 more from donors than the B.C. Liberal Party in the run-up to the Oct. 24 provincial election.
The B.C. NDP raised $1,957,937.91 from more than 12,000 contributors, Elections B.C. interim financial reports for the period of July 1 to Sept. 30 show. The B.C. Liberal Party raised a total of $1,150,692.07 from just over 5,000 contributors, and the B.C. Green Party raised $327,703.13 from 2,877 individual donations.
Election rules adopted in 2017 by Horgan’s minority government did away with corporate and union donations, and capped individual donations at $1,200 a year. The NDP reforms replaced the “big money” from business and unions with a public subsidy that was not mentioned before the 2017 B.C. election.
That subsidy, which started at $2.50 per vote gained in the 2017 election in the first year with reduced amounts after that, has paid out more than $16 million to the three eligible parties by January 2020, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Over the five-year life of what was billed as a temporary measure, parties expect to share $27 million in a system that also reimburses half of parties’ election-year expenses on top of the per-vote subsidy.
In the 2020 reports, the NDP received more than 10,000 contributions of $250 or less, while the B.C. Liberals had fewer than 4,900 of the smaller donations that make up the largest portion of all voluntary contributions to them. Former B.C. Greens leader Andrew Weaver said in 2017 he supports the transition from corporate and union donations with a temporary public subsidy, but it mostly helps the bigger parties that were getting most of their donations from them.