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Independent Gary Law spent $100,888 on provincial election campaign
Candidates vying for the hotly contested seat in Richmond Centre put big dollars into the spring election campaign, including an independent who spent over $100,000 in a losing cause, new Elections B.C. data reveals.
Financial reports for the May 14 election show candidates racked up a total of $294,913 in expenses during the campaign.
The biggest spender was winner Teresa Wat. The rookie politician who ran for the Liberals and was subsequently awarded a post in Premier Christy Clark’s cabinet, spent $135,390.
But close behind Wat was Gary Law, an independent who spent $100,888 on the campaign trail—believed to be the most spent by an independent seeking a provincial seat in Richmond.
Law was hoping to win the Liberal nomination before the party handed it to Wat, a Burnaby resident. A frustrated Law went ahead anyway, putting his name on the ballot as an independent.
Winning just 1,604 votes—finishing fourth—Law spent the equivalent of $63 per vote.
Wat, conversely, spent just $14 per vote—and most of that cash came from her party.
“I find that level of expenditure by an independent absolutely astonishing,” said Norman Ruff, a University of Victoria political scientist. “Perhaps this is a case of ‘hell has no fury like a scorned would-be party nominee.’”
Ruff noted Law’s spending is one-third greater than the highest profile independent, Vicki Huntington, who won her Delta South seat after a $70,459 campaign.
Law was fortunate to net donations from some individuals, but the bulk of the money, $74,000, came in the form of a loan. His Election Financing Report, filed Aug. 12, lists the entire loan as outstanding. Law didn’t return a call by press time.
Meanwhile Wat is earning an annual salary of $101,859, and an additional $50,929.50 for her role as Minister for International Trade and Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism.
Elections B.C. requires candidates to declare all expenses in a campaign, everything from signs and advertising to office staff and social functions. The deadline to file was Aug. 12.
Wat finished with 49.9 per cent of the vote in Richmond Centre. Behind her was Frank Huang of the NDP, who received 23.3 per cent support. Huang spent $43,326, more than Richmond’s two other NDP candidates combined.
Richmond Centre Green candidate Michael Wolfe, who finished third in the election, received a $500 donation, but ended up spending nothing.
The biggest spender in all three Richmond ridings was Liberal John Yap in Richmond-Steveston. The politician spent $155,450 and easily won his third term, but he was considered vulnerable after the ethnic-outreach scandal ahead of the election.
Yap resigned as multiculturalism minister after a plan came to light to use government staff time to organize events in ethnic communities and collect names for use in the election campaign. Yap—who spent 42 per cent more than he did in the 2009 election—finished with 51.7 per cent of the vote.
In Richmond East, Linda Reid spent the most. The longtime Liberal’s $108,918 total, which included $2,000 donations from Farrell Estates and Oris Developments, was unmatched by rivals, including NDP challenger Gian Sihota, who spent just $15,829.
What candidates spent on votes
•Teresa Wat, Liberal: $135,390 ($14/vote)
•Frank Huang, NDP: $43,326 ($10/vote)
•Michael Wolfe, Green: $0
•Gary Law, Ind.: $100,888 ($63/vote)
•Lawrence Chen, Conservative: $4,470 ($5/vote)
•Richard Lee, Ind.: $9,808 ($13/vote)
•Chanel Donovan, Unparty: $1,031 ($13/vote)
•Linda Reid, Liberal: $108,918 ($9/vote)
•Gian Sihota, NDP: $15,829 ($3/vote)
•Nathaniel Lim, Conservative: $4,077 ($2/vote)
•Doug Perry, Green: $389 (less than $1/vote)
•Lloyd Chen, Ind.: $0
•Ping Chan, Excalibur: $2,417 ($14/vote)
•Cliff Wei, Ind.: $250 ($2/vote)
•John Yap, Liberal: $155,450 ($13/vote)
•Scott Stewart, NDP: $18,645 ($3/vote)
•Carol Day, Conservative: $8,396 ($3/vote)
•Jerome Dickey, Green: $3,559 ($2/vote)
•Mike Donovan, Unparty: $1,031 ($6/vote)
*listed in order of finish