Common Sense Canadian

Alberta oil money played both sides in BC election with major campaign donations

PostedAugust 20, 2013 by in Western Canada
Alberta oil money played both sides in BC election with major campaign donations

Canada’s energy sector headquarters in Calgary (photo:

Read this Aug. 20 story from 24 hrs on the influence of the energy industry on BC’s recent provincial election.

Campaign contributions for the BC Liberals’ re-election included donations from Texas and Alberta oil, raising concern elections can be “bought” by outside cash, according to taxpayer watchdog IntegrityBC.

Prior to the May election, the ruling Liberals raised $8.3 million in political donations, many sourced from the resource and real estate sectors. In total, 61% of the party’s total contributions came from corporations.

The BC NDP — which polls had forecast to win the election — received $9.3 million in donations, 26.7% of which came from unions. Nearly one-in-four of its contributions came from corporations.

Dermod Travis, IntegrityBC executive director, said many corporations made the unusual move to donate to both the NDP and the Liberals this year, something he called a byproduct of pre-election polls predicting a New Democrat win.

Among the largest individual donations the BC Liberals received was $50,000 from Allan Paul Markin, who until recently had been a board member of the Alberta-based Penn West Petroleum Ltd. He also contributed another $100,000 through two other companies of which he’s the sole proprietor.

Alberta’s Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy, both oil companies, made combined donations worth $68,000. Texas-based Spectra Energy gave $33,000 to the party.

Encana also donated an equal amount to the BC NDP.

B.C. is the only province with no restrictions regarding how much a corporation can donate to political parties, Travis said. It’s also the only province where no limitations exist on where donations come from.

“(The donations) are taking our political system out of the hands of British Columbian voters and into boardrooms in Calgary, Houston and Beijing,” Travis said.

“On my count, I have six individuals who gave 50,000 (dollars) or more to the BC Liberal Party. Those six individuals gave enough money to pay for the total party expenses of the BC Green Party and the BC Conservatives, and they still would have $30,000 left over.”

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