Election tally results in per-vote subsidy allocations for fringe parties

By Shannon Waters January 5, 2021

The 2020 election made for a great start to the new year for the Conservative Party of B.C., which is now eligible for B.C.’s annual allowance, the province’s taxpayer-funded subsidy divvied out to political parties.

The party kicked off 2021 with a $31,414 payment from Elections BC — the first of two identical awards it will receive this year.

To qualify for the annual allowance, which was legislated by the NDP in 2017, parties must win two per cent of the provincial vote or five per cent of the vote in ridings where they register candidates.

The Conservatives did not meet the provincial vote share threshold, but did make the five per cent cutoff in 14 of the ridings where they ran candidates.

Overall, the Conservative Party garnered a total of 35,902 votes via the 19 candidates it ran last fall — roughly 1.9 per cent of total ballots cast and more than triple the party’s 2017 vote share.

The Rural BC Party, represented by party head Darcy Repen, also qualifies for the allowance this year. Repen lost to NDP MLA Nathan Cullen in the Stikine riding but racked up 754 votes, more than 10 per cent of the riding’s total, for which his party will receive a total of $1,319.50 in 2021.

Both parties will now be required to file quarterly interim financial reports with Elections BC.

Election results ding Liberals and Greens, but garner gains for NDP
The scheduled reduction in the per vote allowance, from $2 in 2020 to $1.75 in 2021 and 2022 — combined with lower vote shares — means the BC Liberals and Green Party will both receive smaller subsidies this year and next.

The Liberal Party saw its share of the vote drop by 6.6 per cent in 2020 compared to 2017, meaning it will receive about $281,000 less than it would have if the fall election had not happened.

Last year, the Liberals received an annual allowance of nearly $1.6 million. This year, the party will receive a little over $1.1 million.

The Greens also saw their share of the vote decline in the last election — from 16.8 per cent in 2017 to 15.1 per cent in 2020. In 2021, the party will receive a total of $497,570 — down from $664,662 last year and about $84,000 less than the party would have received based on its 2017 ballot result.

The NDP is the only party that will receive a larger annual allowance in 2021 than it would have without the 2020 election. With a 7.4 per cent increase in the governing party’s vote share — over 103,000 more votes than in 2017 — the NDP is set to receive $1,573,929 this year. That’s more than $181,000 above what it would have been paid in 2021, even with the rate reduction accounted for.

All told, B.C. taxpayers will provide the five political parties with $3.2 million this year.