Last week, theBreaker told you that the final bill for the BC Liberals’ pre-election, taxpayer-funded advertising spree was $20.5 million for the year ended March 31, 2017.
Andrew Wilkinson’s Advanced Education ministry was where the propaganda department, known as Government Communications and Public Engagement, resided during the last fiscal year of the Christy Clark administration.
But Wilkinson — the doctor and lawyer who is gearing-up to run for the BC Liberal leadership — was busy blowing more of your money on pre-election ads than you know.
When MLA expenses were released Aug. 31 by the Legislature, Wilkinson topped the list of all 85 MLAs in the category of advertising expenses: $58,692.
In fact, it was the biggest line item for his $120,482 constituency expense report, even more than the $53,386 spent on administering the office itself.
North Delta election loser Scott Hamilton was the second-biggest ad spender at $49,981, though most of that went to Facebook and local newspapers. By comparison, Clark spent $14,824 on ads in Kelowna-Westside and Premier John Horgan $11,987 in Juan de Fuca.
Wilkinson spent more than half the ad money at one media company: Corus Radio Sales Inc., on its Vancouver stations CKNW AM 980 and CFMI Rock 101.
Corus, which also runs Global BC, is controlled by the Shaw family, whose Shaw Communications gave $165,475 to the BC Liberals since 2005 ($25,550 of that flowed into Liberal coffers between late March and early May 2017).
Wilkinson went on a $30,383.80 ad blitz from the end of December to start of February, just before the reopening of the Legislature. The 48 one-minute ads on CKNW cost $199 each. On CFMI, the 84 spots were $231 per.
Though both stations are obviously heard in Wilkinson’s Vancouver-Quilchena riding, both have a reach that is far beyond that, throughout all of Metro Vancouver and into the Fraser Valley.
With only 35,388 registered voters in his tony riding, which is considered among the safest for any BC Liberal candidate to contest, Wilkinson spent almost $1.66 of public funds per voter to build profile for him and his party en route to the election. In opposition, Wilkinson shadows Attorney General David Eby. The re-elected Vancouver-Point Grey NDP member’s constituency ad spending last year was a modest $10,963.
Wilkinson never responded to repeated interview requests from theBreaker in January about the ads that touted a Housing Action website to CKNW listeners.
Wilkinson did not immediately respond for comment on Aug. 31 when the expenses were published.