Liberals, NDP spar over pandemic-era fundraising
Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson is accusing the rival New Democrats of soliciting political donations during the first wave of the pandemic — something his party avoided.
“In the second quarter, we decided to put a pause on [fundraising] because it seemed to be in particularly bad taste to be fundraising through the peak of the pandemic,” Wilkinson told BC Today. “But that didn’t stop the NDP from going out there and asking people for money while they’re worried about their health.”
Liberal fundraising events were cancelled and donation solicitations suspended when the pandemic hit the province in March. A party spokesperson said the move was designed to put the safety and well-being of British Columbians ahead of garnering political donations.
The NDP rejected the Liberals’ assertion the party was fundraising inappropriately during the first wave of the pandemic. A spokesperson for the party told BC Today that all in-person fundraisers were cancelled in mid-March and the party’s email fundraising program was paused through April.
The party also took a swipe at the fact that the Liberals have applied for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, which covers 75 per cent of employee wages for eligible organizations.
“What’s in ‘particularly bad taste’ is the BC Liberal decision to stop asking their own supporters for donations so the party would qualify for public money instead,” the NDP told BC Today in an email.
Liberal HQ confirmed the party has been receiving the federal wage subsidy on a month-by-month basis but declined to provide the amount received to date. The federal program was recently extended through the end of December.
The Liberals reported a total of $283,400 in donations received between April 1 and June 30. During the same quarter, the NDP pulled in almost $775,800.
Getting ready for the next election, whenever it comes
Wilkinson is nonplussed over the premier’s winking at the possibility of a sooner-than-scheduled election.
“It’s pretty self-serving of John Horgan to start muttering about a fall election when we have 650,000 school kids going back to a very uncertain school scenario, and rapidly rising numbers of positive Covid tests,” he told BC Today.
Wilkinson told BC Today that his party has “lots of events coming up this fall” to build its war chest ahead of the next general election, which will be held sometime within the next 14 months. That includes the Liberal Party’s virtual summit in October.
Fundraisers are also back, with Liberal Finance critic Stephanie Cadieux set to host “a cupcake bake-along” on August 25. In September, the party plans to host a roast of outgoing West Vancouver—Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan. The $100-a-ticket event is being billed as “a jibe-filled journey through the life and times” of the province’s oldest ever MLA.
The Liberals have also put significant effort into reaching out to British Columbians concerned about the province’s handling of the pandemic to date, hosting a series of free town hall events on economic issues and education.