A real estate lawyer active in the wealthy BC Liberal Party says he donated $20,000 because two Burnaby candidates needed more money for their campaigns.
Garth Evans’ donation, dated May 30, was the biggest from an individual in the party’s June 2-published, weekly unaudited report. He told theBreaker that he delivered the payment to the BC Liberal Party the week before the May 9 election.
“This is a personal donation from me, not on behalf of anyone else, any client, any company, or anything,” Evans, a partner in the Vancouver law firm Barbeau Evans, said in a phone interview. “It’s because of my very strong desire to keep the BC Liberal Party in power. I’m obviously pretty disappointed in the outcome of the election and we’ll do better next time.”
Evans is the president of four-term incumbent Richard Lee’s Burnaby North riding association and he chaired the campaign committee for Burnaby-Deer Lake rookie Karen Wang. Both Lee and Wang lost to NDP candidates on May 9.
“They needed more money,” Evans said. “The funding is divided between head office and each separate riding. I can assure you the candidates in Burnaby, the ones I was actively supporting, and presumably the others as well, needed additional funding for the campaign.”
The BC Liberals raised $13.1 million in 2016, according to Elections BC returns that also showed Lee received $14,295.39 in transfers from party headquarters last year and Wang $23,707.73. Official financial returns for the April 11 to May 9 election campaign — which would show additional funds for candidates from party headquarters — must be filed with Elections BC by early August.
The party’s unaudited 2017 disclosures indicate it raised another $8.2 million. The report that includes the donation from Evans totals $450,360.22.
Pressed further about why such a rich party would have not adequately supported its local campaigns, Evans said: “Please don’t put words in my mouth.”
Wang told theBreaker that she had “no clear idea” how much her campaign should get from the party.
“What I heard from my campaign manager is probably we don’t have enough money in the account, so we need someone to donate to us,” Wang said.
B.C. has no legal limits to the size or source of political donations, but parties and individual candidates did have election-time spending limits: $4,882,404.95 per party and $77,674.82 per candidate.
In 2013, Lee’s campaign reported to Elections BC that it received $104,912.11 in transfers from BC Liberal headquarters and only $795.50 in local donations. The 2013 Burnaby-Deer Lake candidate, Shian Gu, raised $25,090 in donations and $57,214.82 in transfers.
In the May 9 election, Clark’s incumbent BC Liberals won 43 seats in the upcoming 87-seat Legislature. They had 49 after the 2013 election. The three-seat, Andrew Weaver-led BC Greens have agreed to an alliance with the 41-seat NDP for a non-confidence vote that would end 16 years of Liberal rule and make NDP leader John Horgan the next premier.
Evans was a one-term, Burnaby city councillor from 2005 to 2008 on the BC Liberal-allied Team Burnaby slate. He finished third in Burnaby-New Westminster for the federal Liberals during the 2011 election. In 2015, Evans was among 39 lawyers named by the BC Liberal cabinet to the annual Queen’s Counsel list. He is a former BC Liberal-appointed Royal B.C. Museum director. Evans was among several BC Liberal operatives that Burnaby-Coquitlam MLA Harry Bloy gave Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals in 2012.
For the $20,000 donation, Evans would be eligible to claim a maximum $500 tax credit, the same as if he had donated $1,150.
He would not have received a tax break for the $1,000 he gave in late 2015 to the online Laura Miller Defense Fund.
Miller is the BC Liberal executive director who is scheduled to be tried in Ontario beginning Sept. 11. The former deputy chief of staff to Ontario Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty was charged in late 2015 with criminal breach of trust and mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system.
Evans gave the BC Liberals $1,878 in 10 donations last year and ponied-up another $1,875 by early April of this year.
His law firm partner, Paul Barbeau, has donated $4,935 since 2013. Barbeau was president of the BC Liberals’ Vancouver Quilchena riding association from September 2013 to November 2015. Barbeau quit the civic NPA presidency in early 2006, before Millennium Development — a company related to his client Armeco Construction — was picked by the NPA majority city council to build the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Village.
Barbeau is a director and corporate secretary for KLC Holdings Ltd., the Yakima, Wash.-based parent of the Kwik Lok plastic bag clip closure manufacturer. He did not answer theBreaker’s fact-checking question about whether the Washington company is related, beyond its name, with a British Virgin Islands-registerered, Singaporean investment and development company that is listed in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Offshore Leaks database.
theBreaker also asked Barbeau whether his firm has ever represented Premier Christy Clark, her family or her political associates. “The Law Society rules, as you probably also appreciate, do not allow us to confirm or deny who we do or do not act for,” he said.
theBreaker consulted the B.C. Law Society Professional Conduct Handbook. Chapter 5, “Confidential Information,” states: “A lawyer shall not disclose the fact of having been consulted or retained by a person unless the nature of the matter requires such disclosure.”
In a voice mail message while theBreaker was interviewing Barbeau, Evans said: “We don’t act for Christy Clark or anybody related to her or anybody related to the BC Liberal Party.”
Barbeau listened to theBreaker’s later interview with Evans on a speakerphone. He was asked, based on the actual Law Society rule, whether he would deny representing Clark and others. “I entirely stand behind my earlier statement to you, it’s valid in good practice and appropriate in circumstances and have nothing to add,” he said.