Donations to both the governing BC NDP and the Liberals plummeted by about 85% in 2018 after a full year of bans on corporate or unions donations to political parties.
Newly released Elections BC records show it was the Liberals that took the hardest hit – but not by much - taking in $1,789,242 in contrast to the $12,403,022, a plunge of 85.5%.
On the other side of the Legislature, the NDP raked in $2,153,881 in donations last year compared to $14,218,279 in 2017, a decline of 84.8%.
The Greens didn’t fare much better, dropping 66.6% from $1,372,983 in 2017 donations to $458,338 last year.
Liberal Party spokeswoman Deanie Wong said it’s common for parties to raise less in non-election years than in election years like 2017.
“That said, our 2018 fundraising numbers reflect the transition to a new model where we raise smaller amounts from a larger base of grassroots supporters,” Wong said. “So far in 2019, we have dramatically improved our fundraising performance as we mobilize for an election that could happen at any time.”
Green Party spokeswoman Kendra Wong agreed donations would be higher in an election year, adding the party’s numbers have seen the smallest decline since 2016.
Less money from special interests in the form of corporate, union, out-of-province and large individual donations means that our politics is more responsive to people,”Wong said. “Parties can't game elections simply by flooding the airwaves with paid advertising. Instead, they need to listen more to voters and respond to their concerns.”
Wong added the Greens stopped accepting corporate and union donations in September 2016.
The NDP did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.
The ban on union and corporate donations kicked in as of November 2017.
The new rules also established a set a maximum personal cap on maximum of $1,225 per year.
As the changes continue, parties will receive $2.50 for every vote received in the last election. That funding will drop by $0.25 each year until 2021.
Elections BC said the annual report filings need to include: political contributions accepted; assets, liabilities, surplus or deficit as of Dec. 31; total dollar amount of income tax receipts issued; transfers of money, goods, or services received and given; fundraising function information; other income and expenditures; and details of permissible loans and guarantees.
Parties must disclose combined political contributions made to the party and any of its registered constituency associations or candidates where the contributor has made total contributions of more than $250.
A total of 93 organizations’ annual financial reports were required to be filed by April 1.
The British Columbia Conservative Party and the British Columbia People’s Party missed the deadline, Elections BC said.
This story has been updated.
Reporter Jeremy Hainsworth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org