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B.C. Greens lag far behind other parties in fundraising

Premier Christy Clark and Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver, leave the legislature to speak to media during an April 2016 press conference.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. Green Party is going into the spring election with far less money to make its case than its political rivals, having ruled out corporate and union donations and having struggled to meet a recent fundraising goal.

By Tuesday, the party had been aiming to raise $24,000 as part of its advertising budget for the May 9 election, and was at about $16,000, according to an online appeal to voters.

As the governing BC Liberals accept six-figure donations – some of the largest in Canadian politics – and report about $12-million in earnings in 2016, the Greens are running far behind with $763,667 in 2016.

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B.C. has come under fire for having no legislated limits on political fundraising.

A Green spokesperson said the average donation now is $71.69. Among the largest donations is a $10,000 bequest.

The provincial New Democrats have not released fundraising figures for 2016. They received more than $3-million in political contributions for 2015.

Unlike either the Liberals or the Official Opposition NDP, the Greens, who have only one member in the B.C. legislature, have ruled out accepting corporate and union donations. The Liberals have rejected banning them, but the NDP has said it would use legislation to ban such donations if it won power in May.

Despite the situation, Green Leader Andrew Weaver, first elected to the Legislature in the Greater Victoria riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head in 2013, declared Tuesday that the party will be running a campaign across British Columbia, making the most of its resources.

The party has 36 nominated candidates, according to its website. There are 87 ridings in the spring election.

"I believe you'll see us

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compete because we'll do things smarter. We'll be nimbler. We'll be innovative," Mr. Weaver said.

While the Greens will run radio and TV ads, he conceded they won't be as frequent as the other parties' spots, and the Greens will try to close the gap by using social media.

But the climate scientist on leave from the University of

Victoria, declined to be more specific, saying "I don't want to give out our total strategy."

The Green Leader said he will be running to govern British Columbia and shrugged off the alternative strategy of focusing on a few competitive ridings.

"We're not running to be

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the social conscience of others," he said, adding he hopes to ride a mood for change that manifested itself elsewhere, for example in the outcome of the Brexit vote in Britain and the election of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The B.C. Green campaign budget includes a party bus – fuelled by biodiesel – and Mr. Weaver said the party will be hiring a debate coach to help him make the most of opportunities to reach voters in a debate with Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan.

Asked about the expense,

Mr. Weaver said, "We could get volunteers, but I want the


Mr. Weaver said he won't spend as much time in his Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding in the Greater Victoria area as some would like because he would rather lose the seat and see other Greens elected.

"I would be thrilled if I lost my seat and 12 Greens were elected other than me," he said.

In 2013, Mr. Weaver won the riding with 40 per cent over Liberal Ida Chong, who earned 30 per cent of the vote in the riding she had represented since 1996.

The party plans to release its economic platform in late March, Mr. Weaver said.

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