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Corporate, mining and out of territory donations fill Yukon campaign coffers

The territory's 2016 campaign finance report shows large donations from corporate and out of territory contributors to some Yukon political parties.

Yukon places no restrictions on campaign financing, which means large corporate donations for some parties

The Yukon 2016 campaign contribution report has been released, showing large corporate and union donations for the territory's three major parties. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Yukon New Democratic Party Leader Liz Hanson says the Yukon is the "wild west" of political money, in the wake of the release of Elections Yukon's 2016 report on political contributions in the territory.

In the Yukon, there are no limits on the dollar value of political campaign contributions, no restrictions on corporate donors, and no restrictions on where in the country political contributions might come from.

The only constraint Yukon political parties face when it comes to political contributions is the requirement that all contributions be reported, and any contributors of $250 or more be made public.  

In a report dated May 30, Elections Yukon released reported political contributions for 2016 — an election year in the territory, won by the Yukon Liberals. The report includes both annual and campaign contributions.

In 2016, the Yukon Party raised $236,015, the Yukon Liberals raised $233,243, the Yukon Greens raised $5,948 and the Yukon NDP raised $165,817. Some of the donations were recorded as cash equivalents for in-kind donations of time or services.

According to the report, a quarter of the Yukon Liberal Party's total revenue came from mining companies, including $50,000 from Copper North Mining, and $7,500 from Selwyn Chihong Mining Ltd., both based in Vancouver.

Copper North owns a copper project in the territory — the Carmacks Project — while Selywny Chihong are the owners of a proposed zinc-lead mine in eastern Yukon.

The Yukon Party had the largest number of corporate donations, which amounted to more than $100,000 of the party's total 2016 donation base.

The Yukon NDP campaign donation base listed $22,000 in combined annual and campaign donations from three labour organizations, as well as a host of private donors.

Hanson says her party will continue to push for electoral reform, after her private members' bill last April asking for an overhaul of political donation rules failed. Her proposal would have ended donations from unions, corporations and non-Yukoners, while capping individual donations to $1,500 annually.

Hanson said she will continue to lobby for changes, despite the fact that the changes would affect her party's own donor base.

"The rules are the rules," Hanson said.

"We will continue to push to modernize them to make it a level playing field to ensure that Yukon elections are financed by Yukon citizens, not corporations, not unions and not deep pockets from outside the territory."

With files from Karen McColl

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