Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone. (Facebook)

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone. (Facebook)

B.C. Liberals battle party subsidy, some more gingerly than others

Todd Stone pushes leadership candidates to just say no

On the eve of his own run for the leadership, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone is staking out a position that his B.C. Liberal rivals aren’t yet prepared to take.

Stone posted a video on his Facebook page on the weekend, hinting that he aims to replace his long-time friend Christy Clark and challenging his rivals to rule out accepting the $2.50-per-vote payment that the NDP government wants to bring in next year.

If passed in the current legislature session, the bill to ban corporate and union donations would trigger payments from the provincial treasury of about $7 million each to the B.C. Liberals and the NDP over the next four years. The NDP bill would add another $4 million each on top of that to refund half of each party’s election-year expenses.

The B.C. Green Party would collect a smaller amount, based on total votes received in the 2017 election, and leader Andrew Weaver says he will support the subsidy that neither he nor Premier John Horgan campaigned on.

“Under my leadership, the B.C. Liberal Party will not accept taxpayer subsidies as proposed by the NDP, Stone said. “Political parties should be expected to stand on their own and be supported financially by those who want to support them, not by taxpayers.”

Other B.C. Liberal leadership hopefuls emphatically agree with the second part. But pressed repeatedly in interviews this week, declared candidates Mike Bernier, Andrew Wilkinson and Mike de Jong stuck to the party line, as did outsider Conservative MP Dianne Watts. Job one is to stop the program for all parties, by convincing the B.C. Greens to support an amendment that would drop the public subsidy and allow only individual donations.

“The junior partner in the government, Mr. Weaver and the Green Party, have indicated a willingness to consider an amendment, so that’s our first line of attack on it,” de Jong said.

“The main focus is to just make sure it doesn’t pass in the house, and then this whole discussion about whether we accept it or not will be a moot point,” said Bernier.

That caucus solidarity was first broken by Penticton MLA Dan Ashton, who paid for his own by-election after moving from the mayor’s office to MLA in 2013, and ruled out taking a public subsidy before Stone did.

At his campaign launch this week, Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson refused to rule out taking the money. He also defended the provincial tax credit for voluntary donations, noting they return 75 per cent only for the first $100 donations. That drops to 50 per cent for up to a $550 donation, 33 per cent for donations of more than $550, with a tax credit cap of $500 that means donations above $1,100 receive no credit.

The tax credit is designed to “encourage small-scale participation,” Wilkinson said. “An individual still has to put money out of their own pocket” in a system he says has worked well across Canada.

“What I don’t like is having everybody in this room told that they have to put $100 on the table, and the NDP are going to take $45 of it and the Green Party are going to take another $10.”

What Wilkinson left unsaid is that the remaining $45 would go to the B.C. Liberal Party, in fact slightly more than the NDP because the B.C. Liberals won the popular vote by a slim margin.

BC legislatureBC Liberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
104 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

IH is reporting the new numbers since Friday, Nov. 20

The City of Cranbrook is gearing up winter plowing operations. Townsman file photo.
City gearing up winter snow plow operations

Winter has arrived in Cranbrook. Following recent snowfalls in the region, the… Continue reading

Pictured is the Cranbrook gravel pit, located between two graveyards near the public works yard. This is where two lost kids were located by a Salvador Ready Mix driver on Thursday, November 19, 2020. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)
Two lost kids find their way home thanks to Salvador Ready Mix driver

The driver found the children wandering near the gravel pits in Cranbrook

Interior Health is reporting a potential COVID-19 exposure at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School last week from Nov. 17-19.
Potential COVID-19 exposure reported at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent School

Interior Health is reporting potential COVID-19 exposures at St. Mary’s Catholic Independent… Continue reading

Planting whitebark pine seedlings. Photo courtesy of Randy Moody.
Kimberley’s Randy Moody on the challenges and triumphs of the endangered whitebark pine

Randy Moody, president of the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation of Canada (WPEFC)… Continue reading

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read