Friday, July 30, 2010

Vander Zalm's anti-HST fight financed by undertakers and unions

Elections BC has posted the financial filings for the referendum initiative launched by Bill Vander Zalm to oppose the Harmonized Sales Tax. With more than two-thirds of the donations coming from unions, corporations and non-profits, it's worth noting that under federal financing rules this initiative would never have gotten off the ground.

The Zalm's crew raised nearly $118,000 in support of their referendum initiative. Nearly $73,000 was in contributions, and nearly $45,000 from the "sale of Fight the HST buttons, bumper-stickers, certificates." Thankfully, as this was before the tax came into force, the Zalm didn't have to charge HST on his souvenir sales.

They spent just under $105,000, leaving them a $9,000 surplus. The biggest expense was nearly $30,000 for "convention, workshop, meeting fees and other rentals" followed by $22,000 on media advertising. Sadly, they spent nothing on a victory/thank-you party, despite the healthy surplus. These guys are just no fun at all.

Where did they get their donations from? Well, $21,618 came from individuals but the bulk of the $72,803 came from other sources. Non-profit organizations gave $18,686, followed by trade unions at $13,155 and corporations at $10,971, accounting for more than two-thirds of the amount raised.

The single biggest donor was the Family Funeral Home Association of BC, which gave a cool $10,000. Next was the Canadian Autoworkers Local 111, which gave $5,250, followed by the Council of Senior Citizen Organizations and the BC Retired Teachers Association, each at $3,000.

Finally, here's something that I'm puzzled about, and perhaps something some intrepid media can explore. I have no problem with how businesses spend their money, and how unions spend their dues is a matter for them and their members. But these donors caught my eye:

* City of Burnaby, Bonsor and Cameron Rec Centre: $2,180.30
* Sunshine Coast Regional District: $259.90

If municipal governments want to have a position on the issue, they're absolutely free to do so. But should they be donating tax dollars, or taxpayer-funded goods and services, in support of a political cause? Seems highly questionable to me.

Read the full filing:

Related Reading:

Will B.C. have a referendum on the HST?
The HST affair showcases all that’s wrong with politics today
HST Powerplay: Bill Vander Zalm vs. Carole James?
I don't know what this HST is, but I know it's bad

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not terribly surprised. I'm old enough to remember the not technically corrupt but still foul smelling deal that was Bill Vanderzalm's Fantasy Gardens sale. This is nowhere near as bad as that was, but it doesn't surprise me at all that the campaign wasn't funded entirely from people donating their own personal money.

The donation by municipal organizations of funds raised through taxes to a partisan cause is hardly surprising either. This country has a disgraceful but rather widespread acceptance of organizations using other people's money for purposes outside the mandate of the organization. Membership in a union is mandatory for some occupations and unions habitually use funds from mandatory dues for activities and causes far outside their mandate. Additionally, union members are far from homogeneous in their political views. And yet unions donate funds to political parties and causes. CUPE is a habitual offender in this regard.