Questions raised about fundraiser on Alberta soil

A BC Liberal fundraiser for a MLA hopeful in Calgary has raised questions over where candidates are drawing support.

A BC Liberal fundraiser for a MLA hopeful in Calgary has raised questions over where candidates are drawing support in the upcoming elections in British Columbia.

The event was a fundraiser for Doug Clovechok, who has received the nomination to be the Liberal candidate in Columbia River-Revelstoke riding.

“I think the fundraiser went really well. There were well over 100 people there, all very senior business Calgarians. And there were also companies from British Columbia, people from Vancouver that represent companies. There were home owners there from Golden and throughout the Columbia Valley,” Clovechok said. “What I can tell you is that the message that not only I tried to purvey, but also Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy and Mines, and Sport Minister, Bill Bennett, is that British Columbians have way more in common with Albertans than we do differences.”

Clovechok went on to explain that he went to Calgary as a representative of the people of B.C.

“Our election will be fought and won in British Columbia, with British Columbians, and I was there to represent British Columbia. We not only recognized how important Alberta is to our economy in Columbia River-Revelstoke, but I really wanted to reinforce how much we appreciate them and their investments in our stores from Kimberley to Revelstoke. That message really seemed to resonate with them. When a group of people organize an event like this for you…I think it says very positive things about what you are doing in relationship to getting elected.”

NDP MLA for Columbia River-Revelstoke, Norm Macdonald, saw the fundraiser as an odd choice for the candidate.

“I think it is very questionable judgement on behalf of the Liberal candidate here. The things that I do is that I raise monies locally from residents that give you their $100 or $200. I depend primarily on volunteers and I try and make sure that I spend the money really wisely,” Macdonald said.

Macdonald went on and said that if Clovechok was raising money in Calgary then it comes with a certain level of expectation from those people who organized the event and those in attendance.

“If someone is paying for your campaign, then they have an expectation. It is one thing if it is a resident who chips in $100. They basically expect you to do a good job. But if you are going into Calgary, what is the case you are making for them giving you money? If the suggestion is that these are Albertans that want to be treated properly in British Columbia, well, the things Albertans complain to me about are things the BC Liberals have imposed on this area. They are not things that we chose to do. Given the opportunity we rejected them but it is the high price of gas, look at what the BC Liberals have done to make gasoline more expensive here. The HST, so that Albertans are paying extra on their lift passes, their golf passes, their rental equipment, their meals,” he said.

Clovechok did not see things this way.

“Absolutely not. Parties raise money all over the place. There are companies in Toronto that do business with people in B.C. There are companies in Calgary that do business with B.C. More importantly there are people in Saskatchewan and Alberta who are our neighbours and pay taxes. So I do not think so,” he said.

He  added that he had read that the NDP said they raise money in Alberta and across the country.

“I am honestly very surprised by it. When these gentlemen approached us to do the fundraiser in Calgary we thought that it was a great opportunity. Obviously the premier was aware of it. We went to her and spoke to her and the party to make sure it was in the guidelines that were expected. They were incredibly supportive,” he said.

As for the amount of attention the fundraiser has received across Canada, Clovechok said he thought it spoke volumes to the work his team was doing in the riding to get elected, and also it showed how much interest that Canada has in the upcoming election in B.C.

“I went to Calgary for two reasons. The first reason was to represent British Columbia in my riding to Albertans. To tell them how important they are to our economy and how much we appreciate their investments,” he said. “I was  not there to represent or attempt to represent Albertans. On the other hand we have Albertans who are our neighbours and second home owners who pay taxes. I have heard from multitudes of Albertans since I have started this initiative that don’t feel they have a representative voice in Victoria. Yet they are tax payers. Obviously my job is to represent British Columbians and not Albertans. But I think it is only fair when we have people who are paying taxes in our communities and contributing to our economies, that if they have issues they should be able to approach the MLA,” Clovechok said.

Macdonald said that in his experience the BC Liberals spend four to five times the amount that he has in his campaigns, and it has not worked for them.

“What is the pitch to people outside the province to fund a campaign in Golden? It is a very odd way to approach politics,” he said.  “I know the candidate is very new to the province and really has no experience in getting elected. I think he is going to find there is going to be a degree of discomfort from people who are going to ask for support. In the Kootenays, you can’t just use money to win a campaign. That is not the key element in campaigning here.”

As for the fact that two ministers were also at the event, Macdonald said he saw this as one more way the current government is sending a message about the proposed Enbridge pipeline.

“Most people do not find Premier Clark’s position on Enbridge credible. This reinforces that idea. What is your pitch to get oil money from a group that supports the Enbridge pipeline if you are against it? It raises more questions than it answers,” Macdonald said.

Clovechok said the BC Liberals have not said no to the pipeline at this point and time.

“The BC Liberals are the party who have not said no to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. We have five very serious and straight forward conditions,” Clovechok said. “The NDP have said no to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. We are the party that has left the door open.” He added, “We have to be open to investment and take care of British Columbia. Whether it is pipelines or other developments, we have to make sure they make sense for British Columbians.”