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Christy Clark corrects 'oversight' with $550 donation to B.C. Liberals

B.C. Premier Christy Clark in Victoria, Tuesday March 27,2012.

Chad Hipolito for The Globe and Mail/chad hipolito The Globe and Mail

Premier Christy Clark has cut a $550 cheque for the B.C. Liberals, a day after The Globe and Mail reported that the leader had not donated to her party since 2004.

Facing questions on the matter on Thursday, Ms. Clark confirmed the donation and said she has signed on to a direct-donation program in which she was registered during a decade as an MLA and cabinet minister.

"I've corrected my oversight so I have certainly donated since those records were produced," she told reporters during a news conference in North Vancouver to announce a trade mission next month to Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

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"I'm signed back on to make sure I have got my monthly donation going into the B.C. Liberal Party too."

Ms. Clark did not explain the significance of the $550 figure. Calls and e-mails to her spokesperson seeking an explanation were not returned.

Elections BC records show donations by Ms. Clark to the party in the years before she resigned from cabinet and the legislature in 2004 – she did not seek re-election in 2005.

Ms. Clark said it would have been inappropriate to continue the donations after her political career because she worked for several years as a radio talk-show host in Vancouver.

"I think I would have been roasted quite rightly by members of the media if I had been donating to a political party when I was a journalist," she said.

In late 2010, Ms. Clark entered the race to succeed Gordon Campbell as party leader and premier. She won the leadership in February, 2011.

Since then, the Premier said, she has been "working day and night" on fundraising for the party, and encouraged all British Columbians to join the effort.

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Ms. Clark will be in the spotlight in June as host of the annual Leader's Dinner, which costs $350 a plate. Last year's event, Ms. Clark's first as the star attraction, drew about 1,700 people. Similar numbers are expected this year.

This week, Elections BC released 2011 financial reports for the Liberals, provincial NDP and Conservatives. They show the Liberals took in about $9.6-million in total income in 2011 – about $8.9-million of that from political contributions. By comparison, the NDP had $5-million and the provincial Conservatives $212,797.

Chad Pederson, executive director of the party, said Ms. Clark deserves credit for the Liberal fundraising totals. "As the leader of the party, the Premier is our chief fundraiser."

Mr. Pederson said the Premier is contributing to the Club 300 program, which allows monthly contributions of $25 or more. (The name of the program comes from the total, over a year, of the minimum donations.) However, he said, he did not have access to information on how much Ms. Clark was contributing each month.

The Elections BC reports show Ms. Clark's rivals for the Liberal leadership, including cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong, all donated to the party last year. Mr. Campbell gave thousands to the party during his decade as premier. NDP Leader Adrian Dix has also regularly donated to his party.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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