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October 27, 2017 6:06 pm

Western Union Transfers Happily Accepted by BC’s Political Parties

Saturday, April 8, 2017 @ 6:57 AM

by Dermod Travis

B.C. politics already has its dark money – donations that are difficult to trace back to an actual donor – but the free for all when it comes to political fundraising in the province has given rise to a murky practice: raising campaign cash from some dark corners of the world.

Its name seems innocuous enough, G&E Studio.

It’s just one of the companies identified among the 76,887 donations that the B.C. Liberal party received between 2005 and 2015.

G&E donated $5,000 to the Liberal party less than three weeks after a 2015 Reuters investigation identified the company as part of “a global radio web structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: state-run China Radio International.”

A station in Vancouver – CHMB AM1320 – broadcasts G&E’s state-approved content. CHMB is owned and operated by Mainstream Broadcasting.

Before her election in 2013, International Trade and Minister Teresa Wat was the president and CEO of Mainstream.

G&E isn’t the only state-controlled Chinese company to donate to parties in B.C.

The Bank of China contributed $388 to the Liberals in 2015 and Canadian Kailuan Dehua Mines – part of the Kailuan Group – has given the party $59,974 and $7,375 to the B.C. NDP (2011 to 2014).

A genuine interest in B.C. politics may not be top of mind when the cheques get cut.

In one of China’s state-run newspapers, Huang Xiangmo, chairman of the Yuhu Group of developers, wrote this in regards to Australian politicians: “(They’re) not delivering …We need to learn how to have a more efficient combination between political requests and political donations.”

To date neither Yuhu nor Huang have made donations in B.C. Lucky for us.

And China isn’t the only foreign country whose state-controlled enterprises are coughing up cash for parties in the province.

Progress Energy has donated $12,750 to the Liberals.

Progress is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Petronas, a Malaysian state-controlled energy company.

Petronas is also the majority partner in Pacific NorthWest LNG who has donated $21,700 to the Liberals and $350 to the NDP.

Closer to home Texas-based Kinder Morgan boasts on its website that it’s “committed to being a good corporate citizen and conducting ourselves in an ethical and responsible manner. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on integrity management and maintenance programs…”

It may want to ask for some of its money back.

The website goes on to note that the company does not have “a Political Action Committee. Any political contributions made by executives or employees are made individually as private citizens with their own personal money.”

Highly noble of them, except for the tiny matter of $33,188 in donations to the Liberals through 11 corporate cheques over nine years.

Must be clerical errors.

California-based Edison Power gave the Liberals $10,000 in 2016 and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. $1,832 in 2009.

Both companies were on the winning side when B.C. Hydro reached a $750 million out of court settlement in 2013, after its subsidiary Powerex was accused of “gaming the energy market by purchasing and exporting to Canada huge quantities of electricity California needed and then selling it back to the state at exorbitant prices.”

Thinking of taking a cruise this summer or perhaps a quick jaunt to Seattle?

Put Princess Cruises and Holland America Line down for $3,000 each to the Liberals, Royal Caribbean Cruises ($3,701) and the Clipper for $2,216 to the Liberals and $1,000 to the NDP.

Paper Excellence Group, a privately held company, has contributed $135,938 to the Liberals since 2014.

The B.C. government likes to think of Paper Excellence as a company headquartered in Richmond B.C., even though it’s head office is in Indonesia.

Beijing-based Modern Investment Group gave the Liberals $25,000 in December 2015.

Last year the company was part of a consortium that purchased TransLink’s 13.8-acre Oakridge Transit Centre in Vancouver for an estimated $440 million.

Most foreign donors to B.C.’s political parties can be traced to a country, but not all.

Sakuna Natural Resources has donated $10,000 to the Liberals and Orient Investment Corp. ($1,000). The Globe and Mail reports that neither company is registered in B.C., nor federally and that their their home base is unknown.

When a party has few scruples about who it will take money from and where they will raise it, you’re left to wonder what’s on the table when the cheques are handed over?


Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC.


Another excellent article, backed up by some solid research, by Dermode Travis. How unfortunate there are little to no rules when it comes to donating money to political parties in British Columbia. The aptly named term of “wild, wild west” for politics in BC is spot on!

For the record: the BC NDP has tried six (6) times to introduce legislation to put a stop to corporate and union donations, and all six (6) times the BC Liberals have rejected that legislation.

This, stomach turning situation is what it is because the BC Liberals are the ones who are benefiting the most from it, and are refusing to change it!!! So much for ethics and values, and that my friends, is a sign of too much Conservative influence in the BC Liberal Party!

    More likely a sign of too much Liberal influence in the BC Liberal Party. Liberal parties everywhere are the parties of the debt dealers. Go back and look at who is always behind them, who controls their backing, and through that, ultimately the universal policy they’ll pursue, and you’ll find that’s inevitably true. But don’t look to the NDP for salvation. The socialism they preach is simply another variant of exactly the same thing.

      Where, in Dermode Travis’s article, or in my comment, do we even mention the word “debt”? This article is about the BC Liberals accepting an obscene amount of money through political donations from everywhere, including abroad.

      Even though the subject of political donations, and RCMP investigations, may be depressing to you Liberal supporters, try not to deflect this conversation away from it. Please take my advise; have some coffee and try to enjoy the day.

      @socredible in response to the very real possibility of a corruption of our democracy, your saying it’s Liberalism and the NDP are the boogyman socialists? Another well informed comment. Wow.

      I propose that it’s simple – if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it’s a duck!

      Basic ethics for Government employees or elected officials on how to handle a question of whether or not to accept a gift/donation. If it has the appearance of being unethical it might as well be unethical so you should just say no. It’s not that hard!

      I’m not now, nor ever have been, a Liberal supporter, BH. The BC Liberal Party (and its Federal counterpart) has always reeked of corruption. Even though a lot of people elsewhere in BC support it because of a lack of any viable alternative that can hold off the NDP, it’s controllers are a small financial clique centered in the upper crust ridings of greater Vancouver. Those ridings always returned Liberal MLA’s to the legislature, all through the WAC Bennett years. Before Bennett, in the days of the pre-1952 Liberal/Conservative coalition government, they dominated that government. Which was well known for its corruption. Some things never change. Fortunately for the BC Liberals the abject stupidity of the NDP is one of them.

      The NDP had no problems cashing their checks

How can we truly have a democracy when foreign donations through local corporations or societies are allowed to political parties even if it appears ethical?

I would like to see limits of no corporate or union donations to politicians and political entities, as well as personal limits of $200 per eligible voter… with government funding of $2 per vote for every candidate (not party) that achieves a 10% threshold for their riding in the prior election.

Otherwise our government is just bought and owned behind the curtains with nothing but an apperamce of democracy… as in the current situation we have with the whole system including the bought and owned parties we have to choose from.

    You can never have political democracy that’s meaningful unless you have economic democracy, too. And that we don’t have. So as long as any one person can deny any other person the right to live, economically speaking, that is, except on terms, you don’t have either.

    Some good suggestions on donation limits Eagleone, the $2 per vote for every candidate past 10% is also interesting. With the current BC Liberal Party benefiting so much from this rigged and corrupt system, what government is going to change it?

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