Political Financing

Takin’ care of Liberals

If Homer Stevens had been around and he learned the Gulf and Fraser Fishermen’s Credit Union (now G&F Financial) contributed more than five thousand dollars to BC Liberals, the labour leader’s voice would have been raised. Had he seen a complete listing of credit union donations to Christy Clark’s gang, Stevens’ roar would have echoed across the Gulf of Georgia.


In the Vancouver Sun, Stephen Hume described Homer Stevens:

Gritty labour leader, proud civil libertarian, fearless political activist, passionate warrior for social justice, revered fisherman, environmentalist before the term was invented, devoted husband, father and grandfather, Homer Stevens has been described as the epitome of the truly indigenous British Columbian.

He sprang from the rugged landscape itself and came to represent the fusion of cultures that is the emerging future of this province. He braved the dangers of the restless Pacific to wrest a living from its resources, stayed true to his conscience and kept faith with his political ideals when others reviled him for those beliefs.

Journalist Terry Glavin called Stevens a “boyhood hero.”

Credit unions emerged from the cooperative movement during the Great Depression. An initial promoter of the concept was Burnaby’s Common Good Co-operative Association but the first recognized by the Province (1939) was the Powell River Credit Union (now First Credit Union), where a little boy I’ve known my whole life opened a savings account in 1956, using proceeds of a $2 dollar a month newspaper delivery enterprise.

Credit unions originally served people that banks underserved. While the member owned organizations have evolved to act more like their large competitors, the movement returns profits to the community at a rate it claims is six times that of the five largest chartered banks.

The best of the credit unions offer other advantages. Remember when we called the Royal Bank a jobs exporter:

…the bank will be terminating Canadian staff who are training temporary foreign workers to take over their jobs. This is like the condemned being forced to clean and load weapons for their firing squad….

Taking a different approach to Canadian needs, VanCity initiated a program that guaranteed every employee would earn at least a living wage, an amount that is more than double the province’s minimum wage.

Frankly, I was surprised at the amount of money contributed by credit unions to the ruling party. Coast Capital, the largest individual donor had this explanation:



Sure, they also buy favours for the decision makers. Former Coast Capital CEO Tracy Redies is now a Liberal candidate and a member of the paid-to-play patronage brigade, having served on the boards of BC Hydro and University of Victoria and as a member of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council.

Coast Capital didn’t respond to this Twitter item:


If we have reached the point where a member-owned organization with $14 billion in assets must pay tens of thousands of dollars to “connect with MLAs” and be heard by government, this province is worse off than even I realized.

If the money Coast Capital contributes to Liberals is intended to buy favours for the company’s leadership,  the credit union is worse off than its members realize.

The $400 contribution by VanCity shown above was made in 2005 and the organization has had a long standing policy to avoid contributing members’ funds to political parties. This is from their Twitter feed today:


VanCity has $20 billion in assets so is larger than Coast Capital and more profitable, despite paying a significantly higher percentage of operating profits for salaries and benefits.

Those numbers appear to shoot a hole in Coast Capital’s explanation.

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23 replies »

  1. Thanks for this, Norm. It looks like I’ll have to write a letter to Envision. I didn’t know they were up to this kind of thing.


  2. And upon further digging, it looks like — at least in Envision’s case — political donations have stopped in about 2009.

    I don’t know but it looks like they balanced the donations by giving the NDP a matching donation of $9528 in 2009, then they apparently put a stop to the practice.



    • That is an interesting point. My letter to Coast Capital goes out today. It is particularly maddening for me because I made an above average effort to question Coast Capital on their donation policy. I was given that same paragraph to read in their “mission statement” so to speak. It was abundantly clear I was changing banks from CIBC because of CIBC’s large scale donations to only one political party, and then miraculously receiving a contract to handle the giveaway, er…sale, er…lease, of BC Rail. It was a good conversation I had with them before transferring my account. I was deceived. I read a comment somewhere about someone who was going to give Coast a fair chance to even up the donations by giving equally to other parties. I like that idea. It is fair. If they come clean I will stay. I give them a week. I will report back here how that went for me. This being said, yes, I am lucky to be in a position to even have an account to think about…..given how difficult the BC Liberals have made it for working class people to keep their heads above water.


      • Hello motorcycleguy

        I have just now,,March10th, sent coast capital an email about making identical donations to both parties. Will be interesting to see if they reply and what they say. Mike


  3. Hello Norm: You are doing the taxpaying voter a tremendous favor by holding Christy Clark accountable. Thanks to citizens like you with blogs and social media followers, the public is learning the truth with verifiable facts and documentation.

    Scary to think the financial folks who hold our bank accounts, investments and retirement funds might use our money to buy favors from the government. Who would have thought?

    It won’t matter how much money the BC Liberals have. She is unliked by the majority of voters and some MLA’s will pay for her self-centered media presentations. She wears more iconic cultural emblems than a NASCAR racing machine. Most of her ridings are close. The margins are racer thin, with likely 200 deciding the victory.
    There is no transparency … just contempt, disguised as policy announcements – a smiling photo op that hides donor bribery.

    She is well known for making promises that she will never keep.
    Her past accomplishments … short on details, facts and truth.

    Voters will be promised more Environmental reviews, more Teachers, Doctors, Parks, Sports facilities, Casinos and a desperate attempt to capture the SPCA supporters. “Gifts for everyone in the closest ridings.” More hot air supporting the LNG fund and all of its future benefits.

    The article below shows that almost everyone will cheat when offered a bribe. Why would the BC Liberals , NDP or Greens be different?

    It is up to the voters in May to make the change.



  4. I’m a mere naif in spphusticared worldly issues, unschooled in matters of High Finance and probably unteachable. But I have a good memory and recall back in the mid 70s when I was Minister of Consumer & Corporate Affairs with Credit Unions one of my responsibilities, they were run by “lefties”, former NDP minister Bob Williams being an acrive and very potent force. The large credit unions, ar any rate, had a leftist bent, ran tight ships, had good balance sheets with politics confined to occasional well placed sneers at us Socreds anf kept their money for members, not political donations.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Credit Unions are quintessentially socialist organizations. Owned by their members. Why most of them donate to the neo-conservative “Liberal” Party in BC is a mystery. Well, maybe not a mystery.


  6. Take a look at who sits on your local CU board of trustees. It isn’t Joe Lunchbox anymore. More than likely there are more business people and professionals there. I have a friend that was a director for over 40 years and he told me that you just about have to be a CPA nowadays because there is so much regulation that a CU is now basically Big Banking just without the massive profits Banks enjoy. If I were a CU member I would be very angry to see my money going to any political party.


  7. BC doesn’t need the electrical power from Site C Dam… she just loves the power! Why is there a need for two professional photographers and a video man? Then, there are the 200 creative writing reporters cranking out media releases. If that’s not tragic, then perhaps it is pathetic. Is it that she can only be captured in a good light or just so thick-skinned and non-transparent, light can not pass through. Having being a member of the Liberals for 20 years, doesn’t the premier realize she could have fixed many of the problems she created?

    If Clark doesn’t like being criticized by the New York Times she should clarify the facts. Is it a lie, fake news or misinformation that she revoked an environmental review and ignored the Energy Commission on the Site C Dam? If there is no need for the electrical power or run of the river projects, why leave a legacy of financial disasters.The Alberta government doesn’t need the electricity, nor California or Petronas LNG.

    Why doesn’t she supply answers to these questions:

    Was there a need to install state of the art Smart Meters?

    Is it true that if Smart Meters cause of house fires, Insurance investigators are prevented access until a new Smart Meter is installed?

    What is the pay scale for all the Board of Directors on BC Hydro and well paid administration?
    What was the cost of the Incandescent Light bulb replacement scheme?

    If Clark can impose a 15% foreign ownership tax, why won’t Trump institute a NAFTA tax on American foreign projects, American skilled labour and foreign owned real estate?

    Why has BC Hydro cancelled the long existing energy saving contracts with residential customers?
    Christy Clark’s election promises are as empty and meaningless as Mary Polak’s phrase: “BC is a climate action leader” Try cashing that at your local credit union.

    As Christy pushes Site C “beyond the point of no return”, the voters will push her beyond the point of no return. Only the vanishing Caribou, Grizzlies and Wolves will be left to wave goodbye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why has BC Hydro cancelled the long existing energy saving contracts with residential customers?
      Christy Clark’s election promises are as empty and meaningless as Mary Polak’s phrase: “BC is a climate action leader” Try cashing that at your local credit union.

      You can’t – they gave all their money to the !Liberal Party!


  8. The article in this morning’s L.A. Times: Californians paying billions for electricity they don’t need.

    Someone should tell Christy Clark and her best friends forever at BC Hydro that California has discovered that they have over-built.

    Until then, she hums to the tune “California Dreamin'” but only she is living the dream.



    • Art: Please ensure this LA article gets to others than Norm’s readership. I’m thinking specifically of the Stop Site C group. ( I don’t have the talent to do so myself). This should be a lesson for Chrispy Clark and her group.


      • Yes … I have sent it to several groups and politicians. I think it all depends on what side of the cheque politicians are on. Honest, truthful citizens will help swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. I expect Christy and Justin will ignore it as fake news.


  9. Bit off topic but it leaves a peculiar taste in my mouth: Monday past there was a Facebook post (Feb 6) about the $417 million hospital addition proposed for Kamloops. Most of the comments were rather pithy anti-Liberal acknowledging it was a pre-election ‘goodie’ aimed at suckering the bellwether riding to vote Liberal. A couple were scathing. I went to review it today and it’s ….gone!
    Does Chrispy wield that kind of power?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello Norm
    I want to thank you for posting this information, particularly so the information regarding coast capital’s $53,341 donation to the bc liberal party. A question, when an organization such as coast capital makes, to me at least a sizeable donation to the bc liberal party, how mush does that actually cost coast capital since it is a political donation? Does the 75% tax reduction apply?

    I have just sent an email to coast capital asking them if they plan to contribute an identical amount to the bc ndp party. And I suggested it would be wise to follow Vancity’s philosophy and not engage in this practice. Kindest regards, Mike


  11. Hello Norm…
    As a result of your article about credit unions, particularly so, Coast Capital’s donation of $53K to the bc liberal party, I have transferred my account to VanCity. The response I received from Coast Capital was completely nonsensical and didn’t provide any information regarding the $53K, Thanks again for this information. Kindest regards, Mike Sheehan


    • I hope you make it clear to more than the foot soldiers at branch level. Find the names of senior executives and let them know. You’re not the only one who has taken the action.


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