That most exciting point in the three-year cycle of any civic reporter approaches, as the deadline for disclosing campaign finance donations for all candidates and parties in the last fall’s election draws nigh. I know that the folks at Beyond Robson will mock me again for beating them repeatedly with long lists of numbers, but I must do it in order that you, the people, know who is paying for your civic government.
And the answer is, once again: Mostly the development industry for the two major parties. Unless Vision Vancouver surprises us on Monday, with the news that the bulk of its money has come from organic carrot farmers, yoga-mat producers, and graphic designers.
VV’s details on its rumoured $1.5 million campaign aren’t in yet — deadline is Monday. Nor are those of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, which has said it spent $300,000 on its campaign. (By the way, that works out to a cost of just under $100,000 per successful candidate for VV and a bargain basement $50,000 per successful candidate for COPE.)
But the Non-Partisan Association filed its disclosure today, as have a few of the candidates, notably Peter Ladner, Kim Capri and Elizabeth Ball. You can look at the documents here, which the city has helpfully — thanks to a motion last May — started providing on the web this year instead of requiring us to down to city hall dressed like Queen Victoria and copy out the numbers with quill pens, as was the previous practice. (Sorry, I just had a beer with dinner and am feeling silly.)
All very helpful, except that the NPA has many documents laid out in such a way that you have to turn your head sideways to read them and keep scrolling back and forth to figure out which development company donated $10,000 and which only donated $2,000. But I quibble.
I can’t quite tell what the total NPA spending was, because they file for the party and for candidates but the candidates give money to the party, though not everything they raise and so on. But it appears that the party raised just over $1 million, Peter got brought in $200,000 after paying his money to the party, Suzanne about $70,000 in total but she gave some to Peter’s campaign and then some to the party, etc., so I’m going to estimate the total was around $1.3 million. The list of the city’s prominent figures in the development industry is fairly complete.
Bob Rennie appears to be the biggest donor, having turned over $35,000 worth of his advertising pages (I presume in the Vancouver Sun) to the party. Developer Rob Macdonald gave at least $12,625; Imperial Parking kicked in $12,500 ($7,500 to the party; $5,000 to Peter); Concord Pacific gave around $12,000, Jimmy Pattison’s company, $10,000; Henderson Developers gave $12,500; the Keg restaurants gave $10,000. There are a couple of newcomers (to me, anyway, it seems) on the scene with big money. The owners Harbour Centre Complex, the Sears tower to oldtimers, gave $10,000. That’s odd, considering that the directors of the company, Rainer Hackert and Carl-Gustav Staelin, are from Missassagua and Germany respectively. Another newcomer donor is David Sidoo, the ex-football player, investment banker and owner of DB Bistro Moderne. Those last two also gave $10,000 apiece.
What does new NPA president Michael Davis make of all this? Well, he’s glad the party’s not in debt. They came out of the debacle with about $3,000. But he’d like to see a limit on donations from unions, developers and businesses. Gee, maybe there could be bipartisan support for this idea at last.
Now we’re waiting to see what Vision will file.
BTW, for those waiting to see what Sam Sullivan and Raymond Louie spent on their failed campaigns to run for mayor — keep waiting. Davis said the current law does not appear to require Sullivan for sure and Louie, maybe, to file. A candidate who runs for a nomination and loses has no requirement to file later, so we will never never find out who Sullivan’s great supporters were. (I should note that he gave $15,000 to the party through donations.) As for whether Louie, who ran for a mayoral nomination and lost but then ran for a council nomination, got it and then was elected, has to file his expenses for the mayoral nomination — that’s not at all clear, says Davis.
I would like to note for the record that I spent a quarter tank of gas, plus the cost of a coffee (with an NPA organizer) and a lunch (with a Vision organizer) on the day of the election.