Friday, November 16, 2012

Political Contributions in Newfoundland and Labrador

I've added a followup to this post here.

The recent $500 a plate fundraiser for the provincial PC party got me wondering about who contributes money to the provincial political parties. Here is what I got from Elections NL. 

Two things jump out right away:  most donations go to the governing party and most donations come from businesses.  The following chart presents total income of the provincial political parties over the last 8 even years (only `96 was an election year).

Can you tell in what year the PCs were elected?  It is the year where the blue and red lines cross.  In 2010, the PC party received income of $820,000 compared to $101,000 for the Liberals.  In 1998, the Liberals received $975,000 compared to $67,000 for the PCs.    The NDP has been stuck around $75,000 the entire time. 

Where is the money coming from?  In 2010, over 80% was from corporate donations.  I've classified corporate donors giving more than $2000 according to industry and listed them below in rounded figures.  The first column is donations to the PC party and the second is donations the Liberal party (there are none to the NDP).  The discrepancy is hard to miss.

Construction and Contracting:

Pennecon Ltd 14000 1000
BAE - Newplan Grounp Ltd. 14500
DF Barnes Ltd 14000
NL Design Associates Ltd 12000 250
AMEC Americas Ltd. 9500
Provincial Paving Ltd 7500
J-1 Contracting Ltd 5000
Municipal Construction Ltd 5000
Fortis 4500
ND Dobbin Ltd 3900
Nortech Construction Ltd 3900
Ellsworth Estates Inc 3800
Crosbie Group Ltd 3400
Marco Services Ltd 2500
Eastern Contracting Ltd 3600

Total                                              $107K            $1K


PHB Group Inc. 13000
Gibbon Snow Architects Inc 11000
Sheppard Case Architects Inc. 10000
Hearn Fougere Architects Inc 8200
Frank Stanley & Associates, Architect 6450
John Hearn Architect Inc 5000
Ron Fougerie Associates Ltd 5000
Hampton Architects Inc 4000 100

Total                                              $63K           $0.1K


Hatch Mott MacDonald Ltd 8000
NL Consulting Engineers Ltd 7500
GJ Cahill & Co 5700
Core Engineering Inc. 4800 500
Quadratec Inc. 5000
Design Management Group Ltd 3800
AMEC Earth & Enviro 3500
CBCL Ltd 2300 500
NewLab Engineering Ltd 2300 450
Exploits Engineering Consultants Ltd 2400
Crosbie Engineering 2100

Total                                               $47K            $1K


Bell Aliant Inc. 16000 5500
Rogers Comm. Inc. 9500 4500

Total                                               $26K         $10K


Vale/ Vale Inco 9000
Coordinates Capital Corp 5000
Aurora Energy 3400 1500
Fugro Jacques GeoSurveys Inc. 5350
North Atlantic Refining Ltd 4500
Imperial Oil Ltd 2400

Total                                               $30K        $1.5K


Citicorp Finance 5100
Bank of Nova Scotia 5000
TD Financial Group 4500
Royal Bank of Canada 2800
CIBC Wood Gundy 6500

Total                                              $19K            $5K


Shoppers Drug Mart 8500
British Confectionary Company Ltd 8000
Coleman Management Services Ltd. 5000
JB Hand & Sons Ltd 3000
Chester Dawe Ltd. 2500
Canadian Tire 2250

Total                                               $29K

Beverage Manufacturers:

Labatt Brewing Company 9000
Browning Harvey Ltd 6500 700
Molson Coors Brewing Company 7000

Total                                               $23K             $1K

Marketing/Public Relations:

The Idea Factory 4500
M5 Marketing Communications Inc. 4300
Pilot Communications Inc 2800
Market InsightsInc 2500
Promoworks Inc. 2500

Total                                               $16K


PF Collins Customs Broker Ltd 7000
Oceanex Inc 5500
Puddister Shipping Ltd 2300

Total                                               $15K

Law firms:

Fasken Martineau Duomulin SEN 9500
Benson Myles PLC Inc. 5150

Total                                               $15K


Ocean Choice Int Inc 6500
Labrador Fisherman's Union Shrimp Company 1000 1200

Total                                                $8K             $1K

Pulp and Paper:

Kruger Inc 4500
Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Inc 2000

Total                                                $7K

There are a handful of donations that didn't fit into these categories.  Provincial Airlines, who are currently implicated in the Penashue scandal, gave $17.5K to the PCs and five hundred to the Liberals.   Labrador Marine Inc., who operate ferry service in Labrador, gave $10K to the PCs.  A Harvey & Company, a diversified group of companies, gave $10K to the PCs.  There are single donations from a hotel, an aquaculture company,  a sheet metal manufacturer, and a real estate company.   A marketing firm called Bristol Group Inc. gave a huge donation of $38K to the Liberals right before getting taken over by a competitor, which seems pretty weird so I didn't include it in the table above.

In addition to corporate donations, there were a couple individual donations to the PCs and the United Steel Workers of America gave $20K to the NDP.   The second biggest donation to the NDP?  Lorraine Michael, who contributed $1200.

So what is behind all this generosity?  The biggest donors are competing for construction contracts: construction, architecture and engineering.   The natural resource companies are always dealing with government.  Law and PR get government business. I'm not sure about retail, finance, telecoms, and beer; I guess they just have a lot of money to splash around.

The fact that corporate contributions are going overwhelmingly to the governing party strongly suggests a "pay to play" culture:  businesses feel they need to pay up in order to win government contracts and other favours.  Politicians will deny that they are affected by donations, but reciprocity is such a fundamental part of human nature that all this money must be distorting their behaviour.  Corporate political contributions are bad for democracy and we should fight to put an end to them.

PS:  If you like this kind of stuff you should check out Labradore which has several recent posts on this subject, including an analysis of election year donations to individual candidates.


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent article! Thanks for this!

Not sure about the donations from the breweries either? You put it right... lots about this is backwards and weird.

tbaird said...

Thanks man, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'll do something similar for municipal politics when I get a chance.

Anonymous said...

Deregulation, based on the US model, drives corporate contributions.

Anonymous said...

This is such important information. Thank you for compiling it. It's very telling.

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