More than two months after overspending to win the BC Liberal leadership, Kevin Falcon ran a balanced by-election campaign in Vancouver-Quilchena.
North Vancouver-resident Falcon handily won the April 30 by-election by a 3,610-vote margin.
He was sworn in May 16 to fill the seat vacated by ex-leader Andrew Wilkinson.
Elections BC returns released Aug. 4 show that Falcon received $84,374.37 in transfers from party headquarters and spent the same amount in his MLA comeback.
Falcon spent $40,302.09 on advertising, including lawn signs, promotional materials, door-to-door and phone canvassing, social media and polling. Salaries and benefits were the next-biggest line item at $9,647.06.
He sought reimbursement for $33,539.87, half the eligible expenses counted under the campaign finance subsidy program.
The biggest supplier at $13,860 was ElectRight Inc., a company that advertises polling, robocalling and telephone townhall services.
Falcon’s biggest fundraiser netted $27,348.59 on April 8 at the Shun Feng Seafood Restaurant in Richmond, attended by 23 people.
NDP runner-up Jeanette Ashe, the wife of Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, received $53,704.43 in transfers from her party’s headquarters and reported $53,662.92 in expenses.
Ashe spent $12,509.87 on professional services and only $10,997.02 on advertising. The biggest single supplier was Airbnb for $6,279.96. She sought reimbursement for $21,896.16 in expenses.
Ashe’s major fundraiser was April 8 at the Croatian Cultural Centre in East Vancouver, where the party netted $12,692.69 at an event involving seven caucus members, including Adrian Dix and David Eby. The party’s biggest fundraiser during the by-election period was Premier John Horgan’s April 21 hometown fundraiser in Langford, which netted $24,000.38.
In June, Falcon reported his leadership campaign cost $1.078 million, almost $500,000 more than the party-imposed cap for each contestant. Falcon spent more than $519,000 during the leadership campaign on professional services, but neither Falcon nor the party provided details.
The party said it was satisfied Falcon followed appropriate rules and guidelines, so it did not fine or disqualify him. He was, however, fined $500 by Elections BC for late filing.
The race was held under a cloud of controversy as Falcon’s six opponents complained about thousands of fraudulent memberships sold by Falcon’s team. A B.C. Supreme Court judge rejected a party member’s petition that aimed to delay the release of results by 15 days in order to investigate the allegations.
The next provincial election is scheduled for October 2024, but Falcon will not face Horgan, who announced in late June that he would retire from the premiership this fall. David Eby is the only declared candidate and could be acclaimed Horgan’s successor if nobody else enters by Oct. 4.
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals are on track to beat their 2021 fundraising total and the NDP is lagging behind last year’s pace.
The second quarter figures released Aug. 5 by Elections BC show the opposition party under Falcon raised $667,866.45 from April 1 to June 30 for a half-year total of $993,555.31.
In 2021, the year after their worst election defeat in three decades, they raised $1.42 million.
The ruling NDP reported $988,717.09 in donations in the second quarter, for a total of $1.73 million. In 2021, Horgan’s party took in almost $3.6 million.
The B.C. Greens, meanwhile, have raised $471,926.57 after two quarters. They reported almost $1.1 million in 2021.
In May and June, the BC Liberals transferred $30,414.79 to Elenore Sturko’s campaign for the upcoming Surrey South by-election to replace BC Liberal Stephanie Cadieux, who quit to become the first federal chief accessibility officer.
The party transferred $106,780 to Falcon’s by-election campaign on April 29, the day before the vote, and $63,658.98 between April 7 and June 30.
On July 15, the three parties also received their latest bi-annual instalments of taxpayer-funded allowances under a program to replace the 2017-banned corporate and union donations. Until this year, the payments were annual.
Sums for the NDP ($786,086), BC Liberals ($556,629.50) and Greens ($248,632.12) are based on $1.75 per vote from the last election and doled out every January and July.
Instead of phasing out the allowances, the NDP made them permanent, but subject to the consumer price index beginning in 2024.
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