Liberals outspent NDP in provincial election

In Langley, the gap was considerable

Both Langley Liberal incumbent MLAs outspent their rivals during the last provincial election by substantial margins, according to expense filings released Tuesday by Elections B.C.

The expenditure declarations filed with the agency show in the Langley riding, Liberal MLA Mary Polak spent $127,935 including $12,185 in media advertising, while NDP challenger Gail Chaddock-Costello spent $9,939, $1,051 of it on media advertising, Green Party candidate Elizabeth Walker, spent $859 with no media buys and Libertarian Rob Pobran spent $250, none of it on media

Polak kept her seat with 10,755 votes, Chaddock-Costello was second at 8,384, Walker third with 3,699 and Pobran fourth with 166.

In Langley East, Liberal Rich Coleman spent $116,427 including $12,350 on media advertising, NDP challenger Inder Johal spent $7,295.68, $3,190 on media, Green candidate Bill Masse spent $1,250. none of it on advertising and Libertarian Alex Joehl spent $450, $20 on media.

Coleman won Langley East with 16,348 votes, more than all his rivals combined.

Johal was second with 8,820, Masse third with 4,968. and Joehl fourth with 448.

Most Langley candidates also spent varying amounts on pamphlets, signs and other forms of promotional material.

Overall, the B.C. NDP took in more than $9 million in political contributions for the May B.C. election, with the help of more than $3 million from unions, compared to $7.6 million for the B.C. Liberals.

The filings show the B.C. Liberals outspent the NDP by $4.6 million to $4.3 million during the restricted spending period of the election, in what is expected to be the last B.C. campaign with the current loose limits on political contributions and expenditures. The NDP minority government has pledged to ban corporate and union donations and put a limit on individual donations.

Elections B.C. reports include a searchable database to look up individual donors and finances for each of the 87 constituencies.

The B.C. Liberals took in $13 million in 2016, more than some federal parties, in a province with no limit to personal, corporate or union donations. Real estate developers, resource industries and hospitality companies led the way.

The B.C. Liberals campaigned on a promise to refer provincial election finance rules to an independent review. But faced with a united NDP-Green opposition after the election, former premier Christy Clark’s throne speech included a vow do eliminate corporate and union donations immediately. That throne speech was rejected in a vote of non-confidence that led to the NDP government of Premier John Horgan.

The B.C. NDP lagged behind in fundraising, but going into the May election they managed to scoop the largest single donation in the province’s history, more than $650,000 from the United Steelworkers and various locals. It then emerged that the party’s top campaign managers were being paid directly by the U.S.-based union.

The B.C. Liberal riches became more embarrassing when it was learned that lobbyists were being pressured into buying tables at fundraising dinners, then charging the costs back to their corporate clients. This violates Elections BC rules, because it conceals the true source of the donations.

The B.C. Liberals ended up returning nearly $60,000 in improperly reported donations, dating back to 2011, and revising their annual financial reports going back to 2005 to correct the sources of another $40,000.

dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

– with files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press

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