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Woodfibre LNG, Ajax Mine Dropped Big Bucks in B.C.’s Local Elections

Well, the disclosure statements are in and we now know (sort of) how much was spent trying to sway voters during B.C.’s local elections in November.

In addition to disclosures on how much candidates spent during the elections, there are also filings for more than 100 organizations registered with Elections BC as third-party sponsors. This is the first time third parties have been forced to register with Elections BC and report their spending — and at least two resource companies are in the mix.

Big third-party advertisers include Woodfibre LNG, which spent $18,248 on newspaper and radio ads in Squamish, where the company is proposing a liquefied natural gas export terminal. The company spent 17 times what it would be allowed to spend per capita during a provincial election, according to analysis by Integrity BC — a non-profit organization that campaigns to reform B.C.’s electoral finance.

That’s because B.C. still has no limits on spending during local elections — despite a task force recommending limits be implemented back in 2010.

Integrity BC’s Dermod Travis notes that all that spending didn’t work out so well for Woodfibre LNG. Patricia Heintzman won the mayor's chair with a spend of $11,842, defeating the more LNG-friendly incumbent Rob Kirkham.

Woodfibre LNG election spending in Squamish

KGHM Spends $8,600 on Ajax Mine Letter

Meanwhile in Kamloops, KGHM International spent $8,605 on a mailing about its proposed Ajax Mine — an open-pit copper and gold mine proposed within Kamloops city limits. The company writes in a post on its website that the letter was sent to a “group of Ajax supporters.” The letter included a list of all candidates running for Kamloops city council and listed their public positions on the Ajax mine.

“At a cost of $8,605 that was either one very large group or one very long letter,” Travis notes. “Didn't work out so well for the mine either when the results came in.”

Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Spending Remains a Mystery

As is often the case, the biggest story may be in what we don't know.

In October, Elections BC ruled that Kinder Morgan didn’t need to register as a third-party sponsor despite launching a major advertising offensive about its proposed Trans Mountain oilsands pipeline to Burnaby during the election. Due to that ruling, Kinder Morgan’s spending during the election will forever remain a mystery.

Photo: My Sea to Sky

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We hear it time and time again:
“These are the stories that need to be told and you are some of the only ones telling them,” John, a new member of The Narwhal, wrote in to say.

Investigating stories others aren’t. Diving deep to find solutions to the climate crisis. Sending journalists to report from remote locations for days and sometimes weeks on end. These are the core tenets of what we do here at The Narwhal. It’s also the kind of work that takes time and resources to pull off.

That might sound obvious, but it’s far from reality in many shrinking and cash-strapped Canadian newsrooms. So what’s The Narwhal’s secret sauce? Thousands of members like John who support our non-profit, ad-free journalism by giving whatever they can afford each month (or year).

But here’s the thing: just two per cent of The Narwhal’s readers step up to keep our stories free for all to read. Will you join the two per cent and become a member of The Narwhal today?

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