A seat in the B.C. legislature doesn’t come cheap.
Financial disclosures published this week by Elections B.C. reveal exactly how much each candidate squeezed out of voters and their respective party in an attempt to be christened as one of 85 provincial MLAs.
Nowhere was the electoral spending spree more pronounced than in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, where the three major candidates collectively spent nearly $318,000 to woo voters.
The B.C. Greens comfortably secured a win with environmental scientist Andrew Weaver, who spent $110,180 to help secure 40 per cent of the vote.
“Momentum just built,” Weaver said. “We ended up raising $1,000 a day from people walking into the campaign office and writing cheques (in the final days), which allowed us to undertake TV advertisements.”
The disclosures include amounts spent before the formal 60-day campaign period, limited to a combined total of $140,000 per candidate.
The vast majority of Weaver’s contributions came from “regular people,” he said, and not from trade union or corporate donations relied upon by the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP.
“People wanted change. It was overwhelming to see that kind of support and you saw that in the voter turnout of 71 per cent,” he said.
In Victoria-Beacon Hill, incumbent MLA Carole James spent $85,000 ensuring she extended her eight-year run in the legislature. James eclipsed her closest rival, Green Party leader Jane Sterk, who doled out $36,000 for the campaign and failed to penetrate James’ 50-per-cent support base.
Karen Bill, the riding’s B.C. Liberal candidate and former executive assistant to Ida Chong, affirmed her role as a seat-filler with the roughly $26,000 shelled out for her campaign.
Apart from a $300 donation from former Liberal MP David Anderson and $200 from other donors, Bill’s funding came entirely from B.C. Liberal coffers and from Chong.
The B.C. NDP didn’t take any chances with other safe seats in the Capital Region, either.
In Victoria-Swan Lake, NDP education critic Rob Fleming spent nearly $27,000 more than the Liberals’ Christina Bates, while Maurine Karagianis (NDP) ensured her 48 per cent victory by outspending Liberal rival Chris Ricketts by $28,000 in Esquimalt-Royal Roads.
Saanich South MLA Lana Popham broke the $100,000 mark in defeating B.C. Liberal challenger Rishi Sharma, while Liberal candidate Stephen Roberts topped Capital Region campaign spending at $115,169 and still lost by 163 votes to the NDP’s Gary Holman in Saanich North and the Islands.
Province-wide, the B.C. Liberals spent $11.75 million on their way to a come-from-behind victory, outspending the B.C. NDP’s $9.4 million.
Corporate contributors gave $5 million in donations to the Liberals, followed by individuals at $2.4 million, unincorporated businesses at $420,000 and $385,000 from other sources.
NDP got nearly $2.6 million from individuals, $2.5 million from trade unions and $2.1 million from corporations.
The Green Party of B.C. spent just $180,000, while the B.C. Conservative Party listed $155,000 in expenses.
Victoria-Beacon HIll –
Carole James (NDP): $85,435
Jane Sterk (Green): $35,989
Karen Bill (Liberal): $26,472
Victoria-Swan Lake –
Rob Fleming (NDP): $62,278
Christina Bates (Liberal): $35,597
Spencer Malthouse (Green): $4,919
Oak Bay-Gordon Head –
Andrew Weaver (Green): $110,180
Ida Chong (Liberal): $102,775
Jessica Van der Veen (NDP): $104,915
Esquimalt-Royal Roads –
Maurine Karagianis (NDP): $75,639
Chris Ricketts (Liberal): $47,412
Susan Low (Green): $20,241
Saanich South –
Lana Popham (NDP): $102,088 – with nearly $3,000 from unions
Rishi Sharma (Liberal): $62,642
Branko Mustafovic (Green): $5,984
Joshua Gailbraith (Conservative): $1,468