The B.C. NDP paid a private charter flight company $73,000 during last fall’s snap election campaign.
Elections BC expense filings, released Feb. 1, show Mondial Aviation Corp. of Victoria billed the party $73,374.36, including $19,336.03 on Sept. 18.
The Sept. 18 payment was three days before Premier John Horgan called the controversial snap election, which was a year before the NDP’s own fixed election date law required.
But party president Craig Keating did not explain where they flew and who they carried during the campaign.
The NDP spent a total $7.64 million en route to victory, but the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave began before the Oct. 24 election day. Dr. Bonnie Henry admitted last month that more could have been done in October to battle the virus.
Horgan’s campaign was centred mainly in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island, areas where the NDP won 50 of its 57 seats. Horgan relied upon a motorcoach from Wilson’s Transport to get around Southwestern B.C., costing the party $56,747.30. Because of the pandemic, there was no media entourage.
Horgan’s only excursions outside the region were to Terrace on Sept. 25, Revelstoke Oct. 3 and Kamloops, Merritt, Penticton and Oliver on Oct. 16.
When theBreaker.news asked Keating for details about the charter flight spending, he said “I’m sorry I don’t have any answers for those questions.” Keating referred theBreaker.news back to the Elections BC disclosure forms which show payment dates, supplier names and dollar amounts.
theBreaker.news pointed out that the details of the purchases were not shown on the forms.
“I’m sorry about the character of the disclosures, but I don’t really have any answers for your questions,” Keating said.
During the 2017 election campaign, the NDP produced a TV ad about then-Premier Christy Clark’s costly use of private jets. This reporter broke a series of stories about the BC Liberal leader’s charter jet spending that cost taxpayers more than $600,000 during her first five years in office.
Since becoming premier in July 2017, Horgan’s flights have been few and far between, compared to Clark. He has mostly flown on commercial carriers.
The NDP’s spending on commercial airlines paled in comparison to the charter cost, totalling just over $4,300 for the campaign: $1,737.99 on Helijet, $1,547.17 on Air Canada, $448 on Harbour Air, $426.43 on Westjet, and $166.92 on Pacific Coastal Airline.
The party’s Elections BC returns also show $7,157.66 paid to National Car Rental.
theBreaker.news wanted to know whether the NDP rented standard gas and diesel-fuelled vehicles or electric models. The party’s platform promised to make B.C. carbon neutral by 2050, in part by switching the province to electric vehicles.
When Keating repeated his previous answers, theBreaker.news asked whether he could find someone else in the party who knew. “I’m not sure if I could,” he replied.
The NDP also reported spending $143,684.13 on Hilton Hotels and $63,564.80 at the Pinnacle Hotel. The latter was the site of the platform reveal and election night events.
Since the NDP banned corporate and union donations in 2017, it has collected $5.36 million in taxpayer subsidies under a per-vote formula. Parties are also eligible for a 50% reimbursement for election expenses. NDP also issues tax receipts for individual donations, which are capped at $1,268.
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