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HomeNewsFebruary fortune: A closer look at the day the BC Liberals hit the motherlode

February fortune: A closer look at the day the BC Liberals hit the motherlode

Bob Mackin

On one day last February, the BC Liberal Party raked-in enough dough to cover its head office payroll and perks for all of 2016. 

That is according to an analysis by theBreaker.news of the party’s unaudited Jan. 13 list of donations.

The province’s ruling party reported that it raised $1,648,565 from 179 donors on Feb. 26, 2016, the biggest one-day bonanza for the year. The total was slightly more than the $1,623,001 spent on salaries and benefits in 2014, and just $137,000 less than the $1,785,475 expense in 2015. 

BC Liberal donor Peter Redekop (left) and Premier Christy Clark opened the Mennonite Heritage Museum in July 2016. (BC Gov)

The party said it raised a total $12,474,088 in 2016. More than 64% came from corporations.

The Feb. 26, 2016 haul was thanks primarily to eight individuals and entities that kicked-in a whopping $1.1 million:

  • $200,000 x 2=$400,000: John Redekop Construction and his cousin Peter Wall’s 2300 Kingsway Residences.
  • $100,000 x 7=$700,000: Peter Redekop, Peter Wall’s PWO Investments and Wall nephew Bruno’s BJW Investment; Townline Homes owner Rick Ilich; Rossano De Cotiis’s RPMG Holdings; Berts Electric; and Seaspan ULC. 

Those high rollers are no stranger to writing big cheques to the BC Liberals. Six months before the last election, some of them also injected six-figures into the BC Liberal kitty. 

Peter Redekop — whose donations since 2005 now stand unofficially at $609,800 — gave $150,000 on Nov. 8, 2012. His brother John Redekop ponied up the same amount on the same day as a similar windfall from other real estate and construction concerns.

Also contributing to the party’s Nov. 8, 2012 haul of $833,728 were: Rob Macdonald ($101,200); Intertech Construction Managers/ITC Management/ITC Services ($75,000); Townline Homes ($55,000); Holborn Developments/TA Management and Dayhu Investments ($50,000 each) and Francesco Aquilini ($23,375). The Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel donated $4,700.

Peter Wall and Bruno Wall each gave $150,000 on Nov. 23, 2012, when the Liberals counted another $829,780 in donations. Along with the $300,000 from the Walls came $40,000 from Hassan Khosroshawhi and $20,000 from Colin Bosa. 

A representative for John Redekop told theBreaker that he was unable to do an interview because he is aging and has poor hearing. Questions posed to Redekop through the intermediary about the reasons for, and context of, the $200,000 donation were not answered. None of the others responded to interview requests from theBreaker.

Dining for dollars at a supper like no other

Among the other donors listed by the BC Liberals under Feb. 26, 2016 are: ITC Management Inc. ($40,000) and ITC Services Corp. ($20,000); Polygon owner Michael Audain’s No. 201 Seabright Holdings Ltd. ($30,000); West Fraser Mills ($22,500); RJR Farms Ltd. ($5,000); Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd. ($2,200); and Redekop Farms ($1,250).

British Columbia has no law limiting the size or the source of political donations to provincial parties and their candidates. Donations are tax deductible. 

The New York Times reported Jan. 13 that much of what goes on in British Columbia from a political fundraising standpoint would be illegal elsewhere in Canada. 

Look next door for an example. When it came to power in 2015, Alberta’s NDP government almost immediately banned corporate and union donations. Only Alberta residents can donate and their contributions are capped at $4,000 per year to any combination of parties, riding associations, candidates and leadership contestants.

  • A source close to the BC Liberals told theBreaker that Feb. 23, not Feb. 26, is the real date for those hefty donations from the real estate tycoons. 

A small group of loyal BC Liberal property titans was invited to a private Tuesday night dinner at the Wall Centre Hotel co-ordinated by veteran BC Liberal backroom strategist/lobbyist Patrick Kinsella. It was understood that they would dig deep and make large contributions to the party. Premier Christy Clark and Deputy Premier Rich Coleman were scheduled to make appearances. 

Clark’s calendar shows she was in Vancouver on Feb. 23 and her last work appointment was a conference call that ended 3 p.m. She flew via Helijet to Victoria the next morning at 7:50 a.m. Coleman’s calendar said he was on the same Feb. 24 flight. 

Coleman had flown into Vancouver from Victoria on the 4:55 p.m. Feb. 23 Helijet flight from Victoria. There was no nighttime engagement visible in his calendar. 

Freedom of information staff working on behalf of Coleman’s Natural Gas Development ministry would not release documents about Coleman’s round trip. They claimed it was personal, even though Coleman mentioned the Helijet flights in his official ministerial calendar.

Requests by theBreaker for comment from Clark and Coleman’s spokespeople went unfulfilled.

“It really is time for the BC Liberal Party to practice what the Premier preached when she sought the leadership, which was to run the most open and transparent government in Canada,” said IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis. “By leaving all of these questions unanswered it leaves the public in a position where they have nothing else to believe other than what the evidence points to.”

Martyn Brown, who was chief of staff for former BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell, told Vaughn Palmer on Shaw TV in 2016 that big political donations get results. 

“For the Liberals, the housing industry, construction industry, real estate, the liquor industry, energy industry, certainly the mining industry, big forest industry – all gave exceptional amounts of money, and they got exceptional attention,” Brown said.

The party’s official Elections BC return is due March 31 and is expected to be made public shortly after.

Election day is May 9.