Andrew Wilkinson and Dianne Watts spar in the B.C. Liberals’ last leadership debate, Jan. 30, 2018. (Black Press files)

Andrew Wilkinson and Dianne Watts spar in the B.C. Liberals’ last leadership debate, Jan. 30, 2018. (Black Press files)

Dianne Watts spent most of B.C. Liberal leadership rivals

$1.14 million was more than winner Andrew Wilkinson’s budget

Former Surrey mayor and MP Dianne Watts raised and spent $1,147,907 in the recent B.C. Liberal leadership campaign, outspending her rivals as she finished a close second in the February vote.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson raised $734,156 in his successful bid for the leadership, the third highest total. He was outspent by Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, who reported raising $675,919 and spending $987,206, the biggest budget after Watts, Elections B.C. spending disclosures show.

Wilkinson’s biggest donors were Vancouver philanthropist Darlene Poole and investment dealer Peter Brown, giving $25,000 each.

Watts led the contest on four of the five voting rounds announced at a downtown Vancouver hotel Feb. 4, before being overtaken by Wilkinson with second- and third-choice ballots in the final round. The party used a weighted vote system, with 100 points for each of B.C.’s 87 constituencies to balance the influence of more populated urban communities.

Lee, a rookie MLA elected last summer, finished a surprisingly strong third in the contest.

RELATED: Video, results of B.C. Liberal leadership vote

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong was the fourth biggest spender at $622,790, $490,020 of it raised for the contest to replace former premier Christy Clark.

Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, who dropped off after finishing fourth in the initial round of first-choice voting by party members, did not file his disclosure in time for the Elections B.C. report. Stone said there was a delay getting the audit done, so he paid $500 for a 30-day extension and it will be filed this week.

Stone said his fundraising and expenses will come in around $800,000.

Watts was heavily supported by corporate sponsors, reporting $832,800 from corporations and $314,000 from individuals. Her largest donors were Super Save Disposal and Woodbridge Properties, which gave $100,000 each.

Lee’s largest donor was himself, with $35,000 put to his own campaign. Vancouver businessman Peter Armstrong gave $25,000 to Lee’s team.

Wilkinson’s donations were roughly evenly split between corporations and individuals, with $327,958 from individuals and $320,950 from corporations and another $52,260 from unincorporated commercial sources.

De Jong’s donations show a similar split, with $263,630 from individuals and $201,680 from corporations.

Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan reported total funds raised of $131,006 and spending of $130,943. He was first off the ranked ballot when results were revealed from online voting.

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier, who bowed out early after testing his leadership support, reported raising $68,291 from donors including Encana and the B.C. New Car Dealers Association, and spending $75,949.

Terrace resident Lucy Sager, who did not take part in the party’s leadership debate tour, reported raising $9,865 and spending $8,684.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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