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HomeBusinessExclusive: Taxpayers dinged for Horgan’s election suit

Exclusive: Taxpayers dinged for Horgan’s election suit

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Bob Mackin

A suit was the single biggest, non-rent expense for Premier John Horgan’s Langford-Juan de Fuca re-election campaign.

Premier John Horgan during the 2020 election debate (B.C. Broadcast Consortium)

Horgan’s Elections BC filings show he spent $2,654 on “candidate’s suit” Oct. 21 with supplier Martin Fisher. Horgan’s financial agent Shirley Ackland said she did not know the details of the expense.

The big ticket purchase during the pandemic election was paid through Horgan’s local campaign, even though he spent little time in his hometown after launching the snap campaign in a Langford cul-de-sac on Sept. 21. Horgan was based at NDP campaign headquarters in the Marriott Pinnacle Hotel in downtown Vancouver, where he celebrated winning a majority on Oct. 24.

The Office of the Premier referred a query from theBreaker.news about the expensive suit and the optics to party headquarters.

The expense you’ve referred to is listed in a summary fashion,” said NDP provincial director Heather Stoutenberg by email. “The invoice is dated September 23rd, and it included more than just one suit. The invoice was for a full suit, a separate jacket, alterations for both those items, and alterations on other suits.”

Stoutenberg, however, refused to provide details and she did not fulfil a request to see the invoice. 

NDP provincial director Heather Stoutenberg (LinkedIn)

The Martin Fisher tailor shop, located four blocks east of the Strathcona Park tent city, advertises made-to-measure suits starting at $875, full custom suits from $1,375 and jackets from $575. 

The proprietor is Mike Mahood, the retired 15-year veteran goalkeeper of Canada’s national men’s field hockey team. He was a teammate of Delta North NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon when Canada won the Pan American Games gold medal at Rio de Janeiro in 2007. Mahood was schooled in fashion at Ryerson Polytechnic in Toronto where he originally opened his shop in 2010.

Horgan is paid almost $211,000-a-year as premier. Almost five years ago, Horgan admitted to charging the NDP $5,000 for clothing during his first two years as leader.

Horgan’s haberdasher Mike Mahood (Martin Fisher)

During a question period debate on April 27, 2016, then-Premier Christy Clark called Horgan “the member who takes free suits from his party.”

But that paled in comparison to the scandal of the day, Clark’s $50,000-a-year stipend funded by BC Liberal donors. That controversy sparked unsuccessful complaints by the NDP and Democracy Watch to conflict of interest commission Paul Fraser, who was in a conflict of interest of his own, as the father of Clark’s deputy minister of communications.

It is not known how much Clark charged her party for clothing because campaign expense disclosures were not released while the BC Liberals were in power. 

In 2016, when Prince William and Princess Kate toured B.C., Clark gave them a blanket, shawl, bow ties and wrap that cost nearly $1,800.

The NDP spent $7.64 million on its 2020 re-election campaign, which had been scheduled by law for October 2021. The tab for Horgan’s suit was covered by both tax-receipted donations to the party and taxpayers.

Since the campaign finance reform law in 2017, the NDP has collected nearly $5.4 million in public subsidies under a per-vote formula. The party is eligible for even more from taxpayers under a scheme for 50% reimbursement of election campaign expenses.

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