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NPA spent $1 million on its 2018 Vancouver election campaign

Party penalized $3,000 in fines for failing to meet deadline to file financial documents
The NPA and Ken Sim, who ran unsuccessfully to become mayor of Vancouver last fall, have now filed their financial disclosure statements to Elections BC after failing to meet the Jan. 18 deadline. Photo Dan Toulgoet

Thought I’d give you an update on whether the NPA and its mayoral candidate from the 2018 election campaign—Ken Sim—ever did file their financial disclosure statements with Elections B.C.

Breaking news: They did!

And it looks like the party spent a million bucks.

I’ll get to the details down below, but first some background…

As regular readers will recall, I posted a piece Feb. 5 on the Courier’s website revealing the NPA, Sim and the party’s school board campaign failed to file their financial disclosure statements before the Jan. 18 deadline. 

I also mentioned disclosure statements for park board candidate John Coupar and council candidate Sarah Kirby-Yung were filed after the Jan. 18 deadline. Their campaigns were penalized $500 each, as was the campaign of failed NPA school board candidate Chris Qiu.

Overall, the party was hit with $3,000 in fines.

Here’s how NPA president Gregory Baker explained the missed deadline when I spoke to him Feb. 5.

“You know what, it is incredibly complicated and it’s just taking us a lot longer to complete it than we anticipated just by the virtue of the fact that there are new rules [which banned corporate and union donations and limited individual donations to a maximum of $1,200] and we have a lot of transactions,” he said.

A second deadline of Feb. 19 was set for the NPA, Sim and the party’s school board campaign to file their documents.

That was a month past the deadline set under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, which states disclosure statements must be filed with B.C.’s chief election officer within 90 days after general voting day for an election.

The election was Oct. 20, 2018.

Sim finished runner-up to independent candidate Kennedy Stewart, who raised $244,005 and spent $320,228. But Sim’s party won five seats on council, three on school board and two on park board.

So how much did it cost the party?

Elections B.C. data shows the NPA raised $1,022,148 for its council, school board and park board campaigns. If I’m reading the disclosure statements correctly, the party spent $891,866 on its council and park board campaigns, and $184,214 on its school board run for a total of $1,076,080.

Sim raised $85,771 in his own campaign and he spent $81,864, according to the documents. The majority of his contributors gave him the maximum of $1,200 allowed under new rules for last fall’s civic election.

I haven’t counted the number of donors to the NPA, but Baker told me last month it was in the 4,000 range.

You can view the names of donors, including Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, Westbank developer Ian Gillespie, developer Ryan Beedie and Rocky Mountaineer owner Peter Armstrong, and how much they donated here.

Fun fact: It appears that if your name is David, you’re more likely than say Denise, Devon or Daryl to donate money to the NPA. I counted more than 30 Davids in the disclosure statements, including David Podmore, David Ostrow, David Todoroff, David Hollands and David Ferguson.

The Green Party of Vancouver, meanwhile, said in a news release this week that it issued a $1,200 cheque March 3 to real estate developer Jon Stovell, who donated that amount to the party for last year’s campaign.

The Greens returned the money because the party says it doesn’t accept money from developers, and that initially accepting Stovell’s money was an oversight. Stovell is the president and CEO of Reliance Properties and chairperson of the Urban Development Institute Pacific Region.

“I want to make it clear that we have nothing against Jon Stovell personally, and we appreciate his generosity, but we have a strict donation policy around donations from real estate developers, and that hasn’t changed,” said Green Party Coun. Pete Fry in the release.

A few years ago, I spoke to Stovell about the issue of giving money to civic political parties.

He said a lot, but here’s an interesting quote you may or may not want to challenge him on:

“The idea that the development industry is somehow calling the shots in Vancouver is preposterous. Year in, year out, the amount of public consultation and engagement that needs to occur in development does nothing but go up, and transparency does nothing but go up.”

To read more about what Stovell, realtor Bob Rennie, developer Robert Macdonald and CUPE president Paul Faoro had to say about donating money to parties, click here.