North

Yukon Liberals raise more cash than rival parties

The Yukon Liberal Party got two-thirds of its 2019 fundraising under a category called "other" revenue and under current rules, parties don't have to say where that money came from.

Under current rules, parties don't have to disclose sources of 'other' revenue

A file photo of the Yukon Legislative Assembly building. The Liberals raised $106,000 in so-called 'other' revenue in 2019, according to a report on political party fundraising released last week by Elections Yukon. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

All of Yukon's political parties do it. The Yukon Liberals just did it more.

The Liberals raised $106,000 in so-called "other" revenue in 2019, according to a report on political party fundraising released last week by Elections Yukon.

Under the territory's reporting rules, other revenue can be "proceeds from fundraising activities, donations received at meetings and rallies held for political purposes, membership fees, event registration fees, loans, or income from investments and other sources."

All four Yukon political parties reported income of this type. The Yukon Party brought in just under $13,000 of other revenue, the NDP had $1,800 and $20 for the Green Party.

Devin Bailey, who was the Liberal Party's president in 2019, said in an email the party's exact source of other revenue changes by year.

"[It] includes things like our annual golf tournament and the leader's dinner — where contributions are raised through such things as food and beverage sales and silent auctions," he wrote in an email to CBC.

"We had a strong year last year and we owe that to the hard work of volunteers."

Bailey did not respond to a request for a follow up interview.

Yukon Party MLA Scott Kent said that roughly a third of his party's other revenue came from new memberships sold during its recent leadership race. Most of the rest, he said, came from fundraising events.

NDP leader Kate White said her party's $1,800 in other revenue came from a silent auction and cash bar sales at the party's annual convention.

White and Kent both said they're concerned with the volume of other revenue brought in by the Liberals.

No audited statements required

Lisa Young, a political scientist with the University of Calgary, said Yukon is an outlier in Canada because it doesn't require parties to provide audited financial statements. 

"What we've seen over the last number of years is a requirement that registered political parties file audited financial statements and generally those provide at least categories of revenue source," she said.

Young said voters should know where political parties get their money. Requiring audited statements is one way to ensure that transparency, she said.

"If the source of funding for a party is obscured in some way, if there isn't clear public information, voters don't have the information that they need to make decisions about whether the party is behold in some way, shape, or form, to outside interests," Young said.

Parties followed the rules: electoral officer

Maxwell Harvey, Yukon's chief electoral officer, said all four parties met the existing requirements for financial reporting in 2019. 

Harvey also acknowledged that other jurisdictions in Canada typically require more detailed financial information from parties. He said that's something Elections Yukon may offer recommendations on after the next election. The next territorial election must be called before November 2021.

"It's so important that ... parties be accountable and that there's transparency and that there's fairness and perceived fairness," he said.

The report also lists cash and in-kind donations to parties. Unlike with other revenue, the report lists the names of people and businesses that make donations of $250 or more.

The Liberals brought in over $49,000 in cash and in-kind donations. Both the Yukon Party and NDP took in approximately $43,000 each. The Yukon Greens reported $1,500.

About the Author

Chris Windeyer is CBC Yukon's legislative reporter. He is the former editor of the Yukon News and was a 2018-19 Southam Journalism Fellow at Massey College.

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