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The Globe and Mail

Donations to B.C. parties show some groups hedging bets ahead of election

B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks to reporters following the release of a report by her deputy, John Dyble, in Victoria on March 14, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

Labour groups and corporate heavyweights ponied up to support B.C. political parties last year, with contributions reflecting long-standing patterns such as union support for the New Democratic Party, according to financial reports released on Friday.

But there were indications that some players were hedging their bets or shifting allegiances in the lead-up to the May 14 election and as Premier Christy Clark prepares to host a fundraising dinner on Monday.

Corporate donations accounted for about 50 per cent of contributions to the Liberal Party, slipping from about 55 per cent in 2011.

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For the NDP, corporate contributions rose to about 14 per cent of nearly $7-million in contributions, up from 5 per cent the previous year.

Northern Gateway pipeline proponent Enbridge Inc. was among those that contributed to both the New Democrats and the Liberals. Reports show Enbridge gave $6,300 to the NDP and $7,020 to the Liberals last year.

Communications company Telus also contributed to both the Liberals and NDP, as did Francesco Aquilini and his Aquilini Investment Group, which owns assets that include the Vancouver Canucks. Reports filed with Elections B.C. show the Aquilini Investment Group gave $102,500 to the NDP.

The New Democrats, who are leading in the polls under Adrian Dix, recorded a jump in corporate donations, which rose to about $980,000 in 2012 from $220,000 the previous year. The biggest percentage of donations, about 60 per cent, came from individuals.

Trade unions gave $1.6-million to the NDP last year, accounting for roughly 23 per cent of the party's total contributions.

Vancouver-based miner Teck Resources Ltd. contributed $144,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2012, compared with $138,000 the previous year.

The Motion Picture Production Industry Association gave $7,000 to the NDP in 2012, compared with a $350 contribution to the Liberal Party the previous year.

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Party leaders coughed up along party lines. Premier Christy Clark gave $1,400 to the Liberal Party, NDP Leader Adrian Dix gave $1,800 to the NDP, while Conservative Leader John Cummins donated $3,856 to the Conservative Party.

The Liberal Party reported a surplus of $1.9-million for 2012 while the NDP reported a surplus of $1.6-million.

The B.C. Green Party did not file a report by the April 2 deadline. The party was granted an extension until April 22 because of "extenuating circumstances," Elections B.C. said.

Others that failed to file on time included five Conservative party constituency associations and one Green Party constituency association. Those groups have until June 28 to file, and are subject to a $100 late-filing fee.

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