A review of 2014 civic election spending shows that Vision Vancouver received money from non-profits and a registered charity and that one of the Vision candidates (now re-elected) was on the charity’s advisory board. Some issues come to mind.
A total of $3.4 million worth of officially-reported expenditures was spent by ruling regime Vision Vancouver in the 2014 civic election. The party’s disclosure form includes a separate donor category for non-profit organizations.
It shows that Vision took a total of $12,170 from non-profits during the election period. A total of $6,750 came from three medical marijuana societies: the Eden Medicinal Society ($1750), Med Pot Now Society ($2500), and the Vancouver Dispensary Society ($2500). (Related: Vancouver City Hall recently enacted new rules for retail medical marijuana dispensaries on June 24, 2015.)
Among the non-profits, the Innerchange Foundation is listed as a Vision donor. The Canadian Revenue Agency website reveals that the Innerchange Foundation is a charitable organization. Elections BC may have lax rules for charitable organizations giving money to political parties, but the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has stronger opinions on the matter.
The amount of Innerchange’s donation (a total of $100) may not be a big concern, but what about the principle? Should any political organization be accepting money from a registered charity?
It is also interesting to note the connections revealed in membership of the Innerchange Foundation Board. The lists of main board and advisory board members include the names of Francesco Aquilini’s ex-wife, the husband of City Hall’s chief “spinner” (Rena Kendall-Craden, who is the City of Vancouver’s Director of Corporate Communications), former Conservative Party M.P. John Reynolds, Goldcorp president Charles Jeannes, and Vancouver City Councillor Kerry Jang.
We are in no way questioning the integrity or work of Innerchange Foundation.
But some important points to note are that (1) a political party accepted a donation from a registered charity, and (2) an election candidate with that party was also an advisor to that charity. Whether or not people think there are problems here, it is important for non-profits, registered charities, and political parties in future elections to watch out for these issues and make every effort to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest.
More information about the key players in the Innerchange Foundation can be found here.
A total of 17 different non-profits gave money to Vision in 2014 (list here). The Canada Chaoshan Business Association donated a total of $2,000. The Vision Vancouver Executive ultimately set the party’s policies on what donations, if any, they refuse.
Additional information on Vision’s contributors can be found in their main list of donors for 2014 (other donors and spending details also can be found in candidate and school board disclosure forms). A search of Elections BC website can provide more information on all spending in the 2014 Vancouver election.