British Columbia

Liberal fundraising tactics under fire

The B.C. Liberal campaign has been hit by controversy over money paid by municipalities in northern B.C. to attend a conference, with the dollars going directly to the local Liberal riding association.

The B.C. Liberal campaign has been hit by controversy over money paid by municipalities in northern B.C. to attend a conference, with the dollars going directly to the local Liberal riding association.

The District of Kitimat paid $360 to attend an economic development forum in Terrace last year. And the communities of Terrace, Prince Rupert, Smithers and Stewart also paid to attend.

Their invitations to attend the forum arrived on the official letterhead of Skeena Liberal MLA Roger Harris. And the Liberal Party then sent out invoices confirming the donations.

Premier Gordon Campbell says it should never have happened, and that its been taken care of – with the money being sent back to the municipalities.

"I think it's been dealt with. I heard that Roger had heard about it for the first time today. He's dealt with it, the dollars are going back, and I understand that the president of the constituency association has resigned."

Harris endorsed and hosted the event, but says he had no idea his own riding association was using it as a means of raising money for the Liberal Party.

"It was never meant to be a fundraiser. Today, I am notifying all of the municipalities involved that we're going to be returning the money to them. At the same time, my riding association president has resigned and I've accepted that."

NDP Leader Carole James says it's apparent the government used public servants to provide partisan political support for its election campaign.

James has written an open letter to Campbell demanding to know how much money the Liberals have raised or spent inappropriately – saying the fact the money is being returned is not good enough.

"If it occurred in these two ridings, what other areas may it have occurred in? The public has a right to know. We need an investigation."

James says the premier not only has to come clean about how much money was raised inappropriately, but also provide that information to the auditor general and the chief electoral officer.