B.C. Conservatives blast B.C. Liberals for disgraceful deceits on donations

Party president Corbin Mitchell suggests Legislature committee also do a quick probe

News Release March 6, 2017

New revelations of deceitful disclosures of donations to the B.C. Liberal Party deserve to be fully investigated prior to the May 9 provincial election, says B.C. Conservative Party president Corbin Mitchell.

News reports in the Globe and Mail Saturday and today by Kathy Tomlinson clearly show that B.C. Liberal Party officials must have known or surely should have known that several dozen major donations were being made repeatedly by a few lobbyists or other agents for donors who did not want their identities revealed even though such disclosure is clearly required by B.C.’s already-weak or “Wild West” political campaign disclosure laws, said Mitchell, speaking for the party in the absence of an elected leader.

“The people of B.C. deserve to know exactly who is financially supporting the governing party and the opposition parties so voters can make informed decisions when they vote in the coming election,” said Mitchell, noting the investigation by the RCMP being suggested by Green Party leader Andrew Weaver certainly is warranted too but probably would have the release of its results delayed until after voting day.

Mitchell welcomed the recent promise by Premier Christy Clark to require that donations be disclosed within 10 days but he said that’s a bit of smokescreen to obscure that the real issue is not the speed of disclosure but the true identities.

The investigation of the matter announced by Elections BC also is warranted but again could be delayed, said Mitchell, instead suggesting that the B.C. Legislature also immediately refer the matter to its existing Public Accounts Committee, which is chaired by an Opposition MLA and could give voice to Weaver and Independent MLA Vicki Huntington – perhaps with Huntington – who has no party affiliation – taking over as chair.

Mitchell further suggested that that committee be empowered to sit frequently at Huntington’s call even with a small quorum and when the Legislature is not in session and if necessary keep sitting until the election writ is dropped in early April, with the committee using its existing power to subpoena witnesses.

“The abuse of our political process that this scandal reveals needs to be cleared up before voting day,” said Mitchell, whose party will be running as many candidates as possible in the coming election and will announce its first candidate next week in Courtenay-Comox.

“Public trust in their elected representatives is essential to the well-being of our democratic systems but this Liberal scandal undermines that,” said BCCP treasurer Bob Bray, noting that he has ensured that all political contributions to the BCCP are directly from the identified entities and not surreptitiously for others.

“This new scandal shows it truly is time for a major change in B.C. politics,” said BCCP communications director John Twigg, noting that a populist revolt against special favours for friends and insiders has become a global trend that included the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and the election of President Donald Trump in the United States.

Twigg noted that a clear intent to deceive was identified by Integrity B.C.’s executive director Dermod Travis when he appeared this morning on CKNW’s Jon McComb Show and said he had found several situations in which a person or business regularly gave modest amounts to the B.C. Liberal Party in his own name but suddenly gave an amount of more than $110,000 with no indication it was on behalf of a third party, which prompted McComb to also observe that that and other moves could also involve possible evasions of federal income tax.

Travis (who does not speak for the party) said his research found that 2,913 corporate donors gave $72 million to the Liberals out of its total income of $106.7 million and of that $72 million the lion’s share of 73 per cent or $52.33 million came from only 285 donors.

“It all adds up to blatant influence-peddling and perhaps even criminal bribery,” said Twigg, noting that the major donors also tend to be beneficiaries of major decisions by the provincial government.

“This whole mess obviously deserves to be fully and quickly aired,” said Twigg, claiming a well-empowered Legislature committee might be one of the best and fastest ways to proceed.

For further information contact Twigg at 778-348-0747 or john@johntwigg.com .