B.C.’s per-vote subsidy for political parties has paid out $14.6 million, with another $4.6 million to go before it needs legislation to continue after 2022.
The subsidy was introduced by Premier John Horgan’s minority government after the 2017 election, at $2.50 per vote for qualifying parties. The B.C. NDP campaigned on its pledge to do away with corporate and union donations, and then reversed position and brought in the taxpayer subsidy with the support of the B.C. Green Party. Horgan denied there was any plan to do so in a 2017 election debate with former premier Christy Clark.
After the election, the defeated B.C. Liberal Party voted against the subsidy, but was the largest beneficiary after it passed, collecting nearly $1 million based on the largest number of votes received in 2017.
The subsidy has declined to $1.75 per vote, with the latest payout in January reflecting the NDP majority government. The NDP received $1.57 million, the B.C. Liberals collected $1.11 million and the B.C. Green Party got $497,570.
The 2020 snap election also saw two smaller parties get enough votes to qualify, gathering at least five per cent of the vote in constituencies where they ran candidates. The B.C. Conservative Party collected $62,828.50 and the Rural B.C. Party got $1,319.
Chief Electoral Office Anton Boegman reported to an all-party committee in late April that he has requested $3.25 million from the finance ministry for the next two instalments, in July 2021 and January 2022. Unless the subsidy is renewed, the final round of payments totalling $1.62 million goes out in July 2022.
The committee has called for public input on whether the subsidy should continue after 2022, in what amount and for how long. The consultation continues until May 28 with written, audio or video submissions as well as virtual public hearings.
With private donations restricted to individual B.C. residents at no more than $1,200 per year, the NDP continued its dominance of fundraising as well. Elections B.C. reported on the parties’ first-quarter political contributions, up to March 31, with the NDP reporting $662,573.27 in donations over three months. The B.C. Liberals reported $241,628.51, the B.C. Greens $170,286.01, the B.C. Conservatives $11,173 and the Rural B.C. Party $60.