Christy Clark (Black Press files.)

B.C. Liberals return $93,000 in donations

New information comes as RCMP are reviewing possible violations of the B.C. Elections Act.

The BC Liberal Party is refunding 43 donations it has received since 2011 that were reported improperly under the Election Act.

“We have identified 43 indirect contributions and are refunding the total dollar amount of $92,874.36,” party spokesman Emile Scheffel said in a statement. “In these instances, individuals made donations with personal credit cards on behalf of their organizations, and were reimbursed by those organizations, which constitutes a prohibited donation.”

The party says the 43 donors were not aware of the requirement to report the true source of the donation, and another 30 people have come forward to report “clerical errors” that resulted in them being listed as the donor rather than their employer. Those donations have not been returned.

The party has been under fire for continuing to collect unlimited corporate and personal donations that totalled $12 million in 2016 alone. An investigation was launched by Elections BC after The Globe and Mail reported lobbyists complaining of being pressured to buy tables of tickets at fundraising events, then charging the costs back to their clients who lobby the provincial government.

The B.C. NDP has also reviewed its donations internally, finding some similar incidents, and the investigation has been turned over to the RCMP. The BC Green Party has voluntarily declined corporate and union donations since last year.

The NDP has been calling for B.C. to adopt rules covering federal and other provincial parties, which ban corporate and union donations and limit the annual total any individual can give.

NDP leader John Horgan has continued to hold fundraising events similar to those of Premier Christy Clark, with access to private receptions for those who pay extra, arguing that he won’t “unilaterally disarm” before the rules are changed for all political parties.

The NDP issued its own statement Friday, blasting Clark for not revealing the names of people who made prohibited donations.

“Why hasn’t she addressed the real issue of lobbyists, including BC Liberal insiders, allegedly making indirect contributions to help clients hide their donations?” asked NDP deputy director Glen Sanford.