Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Doubling Down: Business knows who will be buttering the bread after May 14th

Corporate donations drift to NDP from major Liberal backers

Mon Apr 8, 2013, Business in Vancouver.

Some of the business community's most significant BC Liberal backers have shifted their donations to the BC NDP ahead of the May provincial election.

The latest Elections BC reports reveal corporate donations to the NDP that were authorized by heavy-hitters such as Telus CEO Darren Entwistle, Canucks Sports and Entertainment principal Francesco Aquilini and David McLean, the chair of Canadian National and owner of Vancouver Film Studios.

The Liberals raised $10.1 million in 2012, half of which was from corporations. The NDP's $6.9 million take included $1 million from corporations. The Conservatives raised only $256,000, a fifth of which was from corporate sources.

The Liberals ($2,258,186) and NDP ($1,713,634.83) ended 2012 with surpluses, while the Conservatives reported a $15,870 deficit.

McLean's donations since 2005 total $264,987.50, and all but $9,100 were to the Liberals. He made two April 2012 donations totaling $10,850 to the Liberals through Canadian National Railway and one in the same month for $1,500 from Vancouver Film Studios. But on June 1 ($600) and Oct. 11 ($3,500) he donated via CN to the BC NDP. His Pacific Backlot Services and Vancouver Film Studios also donated $2,500 each on October 30 to the NDP.

The NDP have promised to hold a public inquiry into the 2003 sale of BC Rail to CN, should they come into power. Canadian Pacific Railway quit the tendering process because it alleged the B.C. government leaked insider information to CN.

NDP attorney general critic Leonard Krog said he had no idea McLean made a donation, but that it would make no difference whatsoever to the inquiry process.

"I have repeated, as has Adrian (Dix), over and over again, we are committed to a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail," Krog told Business in Vancouver. "It's safe to say the essential question will be subject to lawyers in the ministry of the attorney general, all of those things over time. Yes, the optics are not overly helpful, but on the other hand I'm not surprised that various companies have, in fact individuals and powerful people, have given money to the NDP over the last year or two, many of them have attended various fundraisers."

Telus has previously donated more than $400,000 to the Liberals, according to the online database, which stretches back to 2005.

The telecom donated $35,700 in 2012, of which $12,050 went to the NDP. The principal officers for nine of the 11 Liberal donations are listed as lobbyists Kim Logan and David Cunningham. The biggest single donation was $11,130 to the Liberals on December 21, 2012. The corporate officer's names are not listed.
However, the officers for the four NDP donations are listed as Entwistle and Robert McFarlane, Telus' chief financial officer.

Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini gave $210,275 in 2012. Although the Liberals received the majority, he donated $102,500 to the NDP, including $100,000 on December 6. That was double his biggest donation to the Liberals of $50,000 on December 21.

Owners of the BC Lions David Braley ($6,800) and Whitecaps Greg Kerfoot ($7,750) only wrote cheques to the Liberals.

Another first time NDP donor was Brian Fehr, who made four donations, all to the NDP, totalling $58,500, from his BID Group and Nechako Construction. Fehr had donated $122,985 from 2005 to 2011 to the Liberals only, including $5,000 to Premier Christy Clark's leadership campaign.

Fehr claimed Minister Pat Bell promised him a spot on the shortlist for the controversial Prince George Wood Innovation and Design Centre project.

Encana Corporation gave $157,740, of which only $14,140 was to the NDP. The four NDP donations bear the name of Randy Eresmen, who was CEO until January, and chief financial officer Sherri Brillon. The Liberal donations have no names attached. Northern Gateway pipeline proponent Enbridge made $13,320 in donations, of which $6,300 went to the NDP. The NDP donations bear the name of Enbridge president John Carruthers and vice-president Roger Harris, who was a BC Liberal MLA from 2001 to 2005. The company's biggest single donation was $3,500 on October 4 to the NDP.

Although its president Peter Leitch donated $1,205 for the year to the Liberals, the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of B.C. donated $7,000 to the NDP on October 1.

Great Canadian Gaming made 11 donations worth $7,835, solely to the NDP, though vice-president Howard Blank made three totalling $1,315 to the Liberals. Prince George's Treasure Cove casino is listed as making two $10,000 donations to the NDP on the same day, December 12.

Progressive Strategies lobbyist Patrick Kinsella stayed loyal to the Liberals, donating $51,652 and nothing to the NDP. Kinsella sold his nearly $6 million Shaughnessy mansion in March, just over a year after buying a $1.15 million house in Scottsdale, Arizona. His colleague, Mark Jiles, donated $6,577 to the Liberals.

Dennis Chrismas, owner of ContainerWorld in Richmond, donated $1,250 to the Liberals last year. His biggest was $500 on February 29 – two days before he met with liquor minister Rich Coleman to discuss the announced privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch's warehousing and distribution. ContainerWorld was among the four shortlisted bidders, but bidders were informed on September 28, just two business days before final presentations, that the privatization was cancelled.

SNC-Lavalin chair Gwyn Morgan donated $50,000 to the Liberals for the second consecutive year. Morgan put $10,000 into Clark's leadership campaign in 2011 and was on her transition team.


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