Corporate donations meant big dollars for the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives in 2017, but the same is not true for the New Democratic Party.
Premier Dwight Ball’s Liberal party saw total contributions of $525,866 in 2017, 91 per cent of which came from corporate and union interests. The number is a slight increase over 2016, when the Liberals took in $506,846.
The PCs took in the next highest amount at $67,810, with 96 per cent of the money coming from corporate interests. That’s up from $58,525 in 2016.
The NDP saw the least amount of money, but the highest number of donations. The party took in $46,202 from 194 individual donations — down from $72,814 in 2016. None of that money came from corporate or union interests.
Typically, the NDP sees tens of thousands of dollars flowing from union interests, such as CUPE, which donated $6,900 in 2016, but nothing in 2017.
NDP president Lynn Moore says the change in 2017 does not reflect any new strategy from the NDP in terms of how they collect money.
“In 2016, the delegates at our convention passed a resolution directing that the NDP would continue to accept union donations until such time as the rules regarding union and corporate donations change,” Moore said via email.
“Our main focus for democratic reform is on proportional representation which allows for voter choice to be more accurately reflected in our legislature and promotes collaboration.”
Top 10 donors to the Liberals
- United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 740 — $22,050
- Provincial Airlines and Aerospace — $20,000
- Corner Brook Pulp and Paper — $20,000
- Harbour Grace Shrimp Company Ltd. — $20,000
- Quinlan Brothers Ltd. — $20,000
- Newfoundland and Labrador Building and Construction Trades Council — $20,000
- Avalon/Butler Enterprises — $20,000
- Marco Services Ltd. — $20,000
- DMG Consulting — $20,000
- KMK Capital Inc. — $20,000
Golf a big fundraising driver
When it comes to fundraising events, the Liberals and the PCs find some big bucks from dinners and golf tournaments.
The Liberals were very busy on the fundraising front in 2017.
The Premier’s invitational Golf tournament saw 143 tickets sold at $500 a piece. In total, the event took in $83,090. Of that, $64,500 is listed as direct financial contributions to the party.
The Premier’s Dinner — where Ball announced the Muskrat Falls Inquiry — saw 178 people attend at $500 a plate. Total event revenue was $101,100, with $87,300 of that flowing directly into the Liberal coffers.
Then comes a curious event. On Dec. 12, 2017, Ball held a “Toronto Event with Premier Ball.” Only five tickets were sold, each costing $2,500. The event sent $12,500 to the Liberal party in exchange for an intimate gathering with the premier.
“Normally an event like that would be targeted towards some major pay forms or accounting firms or any of the large national companies that have a presence in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Liberty party president John Allan.
“They enjoy the opportunity to get a gauge on how he sees the province doing and where we’re going. A lot of these national companies, if they’re confident and the premier is confident, it may make a difference in them expanding their business or making other investments in the province.”
Top 10 donors to the Progressive Conservatives
- Fortis Inc./Newfoundland Power — $11,750
- TD Bank —$3,750
- Pennecon Inc. — $3,000
- Imperial Oil — $3,000
- O’Dea Earle — $2,500
- Rogers Communications Canada Inc. — $2,000
- DMG Consulting — $1,750
- Capital Motors (Subaru) — $1,750
- Provincial Paving Ltd. — $1,750
- Provincial Airlines and Aerospace — $1,750
In addition, the Liberals have a $500,000 line of credit with TD Bank, with $300,000 in advances as security provided between Ball and Allan.
The PC party’s 2017 golf tournament, meanwhile, took in $58,250 — almost as much as was received from individual donations in one event. The $2,000-a-head tournament was the only fundraising event held by the PCs in 2017. There were 27 attendees, though a breakdown of who attended was not supplied with the report.
The NDP held no major fundraisers in 2017.
Major discrepancy, not out of the norm
In the Financial Schedule presented from the PC party to Elections NL, the PCs report a total fundraising take of $105,970 in 2017. However, their only reported fundraiser — the golf tournament — lists a total revenue of $58,250. The report offers no clarity on the $47,720 missing in the financial documents.
Elections NL says such a large discrepancy is seen regularly when it comes to political contribution reporting in the province. Questions about the missing money are currently with the PC party, with Elections NL awaiting an answer.
The answer will be included in the final report on 2017 election contributions from Elections NL.
Top 10 donors to the New Democratic Party
- Lorraine Michael — $2,440
- William Budgell — $1,550
- Gerry Rogers — $1,200
- Amanda Will — $960
- Jack Harris — $900
- Phyillis Artiss — $720
- Kathleen Connors — $720
- Earle McCurdy — $600
- Holly Pike — $600
- Elaine Price — $600
Democratic reform delayed
For anyone with concerns about the numbers presented in this report, changes could be on the way — after a six-month delay.
The motion to create an all-party committee was introduced on May 31 and briefly debated, but a vote to form the committee was not passed before the spring sitting of the House of Assembly ended.
At the time, Parsons blamed an amendment brought forward by opposition members for the delayed vote, though opposition members said there was no reason to have delayed the vote.
There were initial hints of a brief sitting of the House of Assembly before the fall session where the final vote could be passed, but Government House Leader Andrew Parsons indicated on Wednesday that such a sitting is unlikely.
With the all-party committee likely waiting until November to get started, it’s questionable whether any recommendations could come forth from the committee in time for changes ahead of the 2019 general election.
The financial documents in this report were supplied by Elections NL to The Telegram upon request. The final report from Elections NL has yet to be completed — due largely in part to changes in chief financial officers and treasurers for all three parties in 2018, two of which changed since the initial report was filed, according to Elections NL.
The data referenced is raw data, with a finalized version set to be released in the near future.
In addition, financial details of the Mount Pearl North byelection are expected to be completed in the coming weeks.