The governing BC Liberal party outspent the BC NDP by a margin of $11.75 million to $9.7 million in May’s provincial election, but locally the biggest spenders were the defeated NDP candidates.
Election revenues and expenditures were released on Monday, and can be found at elections.bc.ca.
It was a close two-way race in Maple Ridge-Mission, which incumbent Liberal Marc Dalton won with 10,327 votes, while Mike Bocking of the NDP garnered 8,830. Alex Pope of the Green Party won 1,818 and BC Conservative Chad Thompson had 1,190.
Bocking listed revenues and expenditures of $105,000, mostly for salaries, office rent, newsletters and promotional material. He lists $24,000 in contributions from unions. Some of the expenses listed include the services of union members who worked on his campaign while still on a union payroll.
Bocking’s campaign cost was well up from the 2009 election, where he spent $69,000.
By comparison, Dalton showed income of $91,000 and expenditures of $73,000. His major expenditures included $21,000 for research and polling, and $23,000 for promotional material. His campaign account shows a balance of $18,000, which stays in the coffers until the next election, he said. Dalton’s spending was comparable to 2009, when he spent $74,000.
Pope’s expenditures were $2,000, including $1,100 of his own funds, and contributors from two other Green Party members. Chad Thompson spent a mere $340, which included his $250 candidates nomination deposit.
Bocking said he was campaigning “full tilt” from the beginning of March.
“It was the biggest campaign we ran locally in a long time,” he said.
Bocking now sees a need for campaign finance reform similar to what the federal government has done. He would like to see both unions and large corporations relegated to the sidelines.
Pipeline companies, fish farms, government employee unions and other groups are all exerting influence on the political system with donations, he said.
He looks at the involvement in U.S. politics of large organizations such as the National Rifle Association, the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies, as a system of which British Columbians should be aware.
Corporate contributors gave $5 million in donations to the Liberals, followed by individuals at $2.4 million, unincorporated businesses at $420,000 and $385,000 from other sources.
The NDP got nearly $2.6 million from individuals, $2.5 million from trade unions and $2.1 million from corporations.
“Only citizens who can vote should be contributing, and only to a maximum of $1,000,” said Bocking.
That said, he made no apologies for his comparatively big-spending campaign against Dalton.
“The NDP has to compete under the rules we have now.”
Dalton said the spending limits, set at $73,000 for the writ period, and the same limit for the 60 days leading up to the dropping of the writ, means the political system is relatively accessible.
He countered that while the Liberal party spent more than the NDP during the race, some unions placed election-style ads which did not count as NDP spending, but supported their cause.
“Trade unions carry on their own publicity campain, and that’s not part of the cap,” Dalton said.
The MLA allowed that some companies do the same for the Liberals, but “not to the extent.”
In the riding of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, Liberal Doug Bing won a tight race with 10,824 votes compared with New Democrat Elizabeth Rosenau’s 10,204. Michael Patterson of the Green Party had 2,178 and independent Manuel Pratas 589.
Bing spent $50,000, most of it on research, polling and promotional material. He declared $5,000 in contributions from individuals, including $1,200 on his own. Individual contributions over $250 must be declared, and Ernest Daykin is listed as one of his contributors, for $500.
A complete list of contributors is included on the Elections BC website.
Rosenau showed income of $54,000 and expenses of $61,000. She lists individual contributions worth $7,000 from two-term NDP MLA Michael Sather, who was first elected in 2005.
Pratas declared $1,400 and Patterson just under $1,000, with $600 contributed personally.
The Greens won their historic first seat in Oak Bay-Gordon Head on spending of just $180,000.
The B.C. Conservative Party, which listed $155,000 in expenses.