Christy Clark says there's a difference between Liberal, NDP donations
DELTA, B.C. -- British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark says the difference between her party accepting donations from American lumber companies and NDP Leader John Horgan welcoming support from a forestry union with ties to U.S. industry is that she won't allow the money to influence her commitment to putting B.C. workers first.
Clark said Monday the New Democrats can't be trusted to side with British Columbians after it emerged that the salaries of some of the NDP's senior campaign staff were being paid by the United Steelworkers Union, which represents 40,000 forestry workers across Canada.
The Steelworkers' American wing has sided publicly with U.S. President Donald Trump in supporting some protectionist policies that would hurt B.C.'s forestry sector. ElectionsBC figures show the New Democrats accepted over $672,000 from the Steelworkers last year.
"It is not the same," Clark said when asked how she could criticize the NDP while her Liberal party accepted $241,000 in donations from Weyerhaeuser dating back to 2005. The company has a large stake in the lumber industry in both Canada and the United States.
"I mean, everybody takes donations," she said. "But the thing is, does the donation change your decision? Does the donation mean you give up on B.C. forestry workers? In John Horgan's case it does."
A spokesperson from Weyerhaeuser was not immediately available for comment.
Horgan countered that Clark and the B.C. Liberals have been bought by the same "greedy lumber barons" she complained about last week in reference to the softwood dispute between Canada and the United States.
"For the B.C. Liberals to say from the first-class lounge that the big lobbyists and the big donors don't have influence, I'll leave that to your readers to decide," Horgan said.
Campaign finances have emerged as a key issue in B.C.'s provincial election, with both parties accusing the other of selling out to influence-peddlers.
Clark has repeatedly rejected calls to prohibit corporate and union donations. Horgan has said an NDP government would ban big money from politics, but in the meantime his party must play by the current rules if it hopes to compete with the Liberals.
"The laws need to be changed." he said. "But I'm not going to put two hands behind my back when the most corporate-funded party in B.C. history is raking in money."
Green party Leader Andrew Weaver has called the New Democrats hypocrites for berating the Liberals over accepting large corporate donations.
"It's a bit rich for them to criticize the Liberals and then not take a look in the mirror and then say, 'You know what, what are we doing?' My question to them is, 'Who's bought you?"' Weaver said, after unveiling his party's platform at an event in Vancouver.
The Greens had a single politician in the legislature when the election was called two weeks ago and have refused all corporate and union donations in favour of individual contributions.
Key developments from Day 14 of the election campaign
-- Liberal Leader Christy Clark campaigned in Delta at a company that relies on B.C. wood products. Clark said the province's forest industry has "the potential to change the world" by supplying the materials and expertise to create iconic new structures and public spaces.
-- Facing questions about donations to her party from forestry company Weyerhaeuser, Clark said she isn't compromised because she doesn't defend American demands for tariffs on Canadian softwood. The Liberal leader said she would never defend American interests that "want to kill Canadian jobs."
-- Clark accused NDP Leader John Horgan of "cozying up" to the United Steelworkers Union, saying the group pays the salaries for the New Democrats' senior campaign director and deputy director.
-- The NDP accused the Liberals of accepting millions of dollars in donations from forestry companies while jobs in the industry disappeared.
-- NDP Leader John Horgan is also promising to stand up for forest workers, saying in a statement he will "fight every day to get people working."
-- Andrew Weaver unveiled his party's full campaign platform in Vancouver, promising that a Green government would hike taxes on carbon, corporations and high-income earners to pay for more spending on childcare, public health and infrastructure.
-- The Green plan includes operating deficits in the second and third years of a four-year mandate, followed by a $216-million surplus in the final fiscal year.
-- The Green leader said the election is about trust, and voters can't depend on the NDP or Liberals because both parties rely on corporate and union donations.