ROBIN AUSTIN was re-elected as the NDP MLA for Skeena in the May 2013 provincial election but wasn’t the one who spent the most money during the campaign.
Austin spent $40,633 on his campaign and received a total of $41,232 in political contributions from the public and the BC NDP, according to his election financing report, a requirement of all candidates who ran in the 2013 provincial election.
BC Liberal candidate Carol Leclerc spent $67,472.87 and received a total of $81,625.38 in political contributions in her attempt to unseat Austin.
BC Conservative candidate Mike Brousseau failed to file his financial report by the deadline of August 12 and has until September 11 to file it along with a $500 fine.
BC Party candidate Trevor Hendry only spent $250 which was his nomination deposit.
In comparison, the North Coast Liberal and NDP candidates had vastly different amounts of contributions from their provincial parties compared to the Skeena riding.
Rookie North Coast NDP MLA Jennifer Rice received $48,736 from the party whereas Robin Austin received $37,038.
And the opposite was true for the Liberals with Leclerc receiving $72,625.38 while North Coast Liberal candidate Judy Fraser received $27,425.88.
According to Mike McDonald, BC Liberal party campaign director, the reason for the difference is that Leclerc was nominated as a candidate in September 2012 and got her campaign off to an earlier start, while Fraser didn’t start her campaign until April 2013.
“I think part of it is the lead time involved,” said McDonald.
“I think part of it is the Skeena riding had an active nomination race. There was some momentum there believing the Liberals could win there and Carol came very close. “The North Coast did a great job considering when they started.”
If Fraser had started her campaign at the same time as Leclerc, she may not necessarily have received the same amount of financial help from the party.
“I think time and I think money can be overrated as to the impact it has on an election. The party supports candidates in different ways,” said McDonald.
On the Elections BC financial report for Leclerc, it states the balance in her campaign account as of the date of the report was $17,910.51 and for Fraser it was $13,751.02.
That money is held in trust for the individual riding and can be used for whatever the riding deems appropriate.
Austin still had $4,943 in his account and Rice had $9,190.
Mike Brousseau couldn’t be reached for comment.
Elections BC communications coordinator Andrew Watson said that candidates are contacted to ensure they’re aware of the deadline and receive a reminder as the deadline approaches.
A few candidates applied for extensions due to extenuating circumstances and did so before the deadline, he added.
The late filing fee goes into the public accounts for the provincial government, he said.