Last week we reported that the Green Party of Vancouver released its donor list. Since that time both OneCity and COPE also followed this lead. Vision Vancouver is the latest party to enter the fray. The NPA announced it will release iys list of donors on November 8.
The list of Vision Vancouver donors can be found on the party’s website. The PDF file that was provided didn’t allow word searches inside the document. As a public service and for convenience of readers, we’ve created an OCR version of the file (download here), which allows you to search for text inside the document. [Update: Chad Skelton of the Vancouver Sun has also made a spreadsheet from the PDF file available for download]. It’s worth noting that today’s list only covers donations to the Vision Vancouver party (elector organization). Any donations to individual Vision candidate’s campaigns were not published. (Note that in 2011, Geoff Meggs raised $14,471 for his own campaign, while in 2008 Gregor Robertson raised $192,033 — separate from the party’s coffers).
The published list gives a breakdown of the contributions from Jan 1, 2014 to Oct 31, 2014. The breakdown of the donations to Vision Vancouver is as follows:
Individual donations: $492,588
A total of $206,700 came from just four individuals (David Aisenstat $100,000, Dean Alexander $39,200, Ross Beaty $30,000, Chip Wilson $37,500). A number of the other individual donations are quite large as Vision doesn’t have a cap on the maximum amount someone can donate. This is in contrast to the Green Party of Vancouver that has set a $5,000 limit per donor per year.
Some of Vision Vancouver’s corporate donors include:
Amacon Management Services Corp: $45,000
Aquilini Development: $60,000
Bastion Development: $7,500
Brook Pooni Associates: $5,500
Busters Towing: $10,000
Cactus Restaurants: $25,000
Concord Pacific: $40,000
Faith Hope Investments Corp: $35,000
Great Canadian Gaming Corporation: $10,000
Holborn Holdings: $75,000
lntracorp Canada: $15,000
Keg Restaurants: $40,000
Low Tide Properties: $37,500
Polygon Homes: $15,000
Renewal Partners: $25,000
Rennie Marketing Systems: $26,000
Rize Alliance Properties: $34,500
Shato Holdings: $22,500
The Charles F. White Corporation: $75,000
Thind Properties: $30,000
Wall Financial: $15,000
Wesgroup Properties: $55,000
Westbank Corp: $15,000
Many of these are familiar names on development and rezoning applications approved by the Vision-dominated council, which has been in power since 2008. The voluntary release of donor lists by a number of the political parties in Vancouver is a positive step forward. But it’s important to note that third parties are also spending money to support parties and candidates. Some (e.g., CUPE Union Local 1004) are also providing in-kind support to at least one party (Vision Vancouver), by paying for time off while workers join in on political campaign work. As well, Vision Vancouver has not disclosed any money it collected in 2012 and 2013 (referred to as “dark money“), before the election finance disclosure period (which started January 1 this year). Shedding a bit of light on the size of Vision Vancouver’s coffers, journalist Jeff Lee tweeted during the Vision AGM on May 4, 2014 that the financial report showed Vision’s had $577,000 in office expenses in 2013:
The public might ask why Vision Vancouver had to spend such a large amount in a non-election year just to run the party office. (And who provided those funds in 2013? And what proportion of total expenditures this $557,000 was? And what about the numbers for 2012?) Mayor and Council have a full complement of public servants at City Hall who are supposed to do the work of the municipal government. Why does such a large and powerful political machine need to exist between elections? Who paid for it, why, and what did they expect in return?
In comparison, the campaign contributions to the Green Party of Vancouver totalled $54,933 (this figure includes individual candidate campaign donors); in-kind donations were valued at $9,898. The donations for One City totalled $46,415 and in-kind were valued at $871. COPE (the Coalition of Progressive Electors) took in $60,114 in donations so far in 2014.
Clearly, meaningful campaign finance is long overdue in Vancouver. We can’t have free and fair elections when so much money funds political campaigns, and drowns out the influence and voice of ordinary citizens. The Provincial government failed our society this year by failing to introduce proper limits on municipal election finances for the 2014 elections, while even extending the next term an extra year to 2018.