NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — The B.C. Greens have seen their fiscal fortunes turn with a record year for individual donations, the party's treasurer said at the annual convention in New Westminster on Sunday.
Aird Flavelle told the convention that the party received more than $710,000 in individual donations in 2018, which was unheard of for a year with no election.
"In my experience as treasurer, when I started, we had a $25,000 loan that I couldn't imagine how we could ever repay, and look where we are now," Aird Flavelle said. That loan was paid off in 2016, according to a party spokesperson.
Flavelle said the party also received $830,000 from the provincial government last year as a result of the party's electoral performance.
The NDP government introduced campaign finance reforms that banned corporate and union donations, limited individual contributions and set an allowance of $2.50 per vote received in the 2017 provincial election to help parties with the transition.
The B.C. Greens received nearly 17 per cent of the popular vote in 2017, up from eight per cent in 2013, and elected three MLAs or 3.5 per cent of seats in the legislature.
Flavelle said the Greens spent $180,000 to promote proportional representation during the referendum on B.C.'s electoral system last year, a campaign that ultimately failed.
"Proportional representation is probably the most difficult way to reform governance in a jurisdiction," said B.C. Green Party MLA Adam Olsen, adding that the party will continue working to strenghthen democracy and ensure constituents are well represented through means that lie within the power of the legislature.
Chair of the Greens' provincial council Sat Harwood also outlined proposed bylaw amendments aimed at bringing in what he called a "world-class conflict of interest regime" to demonstrate to voters that the party is serious about democratic leadership, while pointing to a breakdown of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's reputation as a lesson.
"It will help to convince people in a small measure that we are the party they want to trust with their vote," said Harwood, noting that the Greens have built credibility among voters by championing causes such as campaign finance and lobbying reforms.
The Greens' proposed bylaw changes would include the requirement that members of the party's provincial council take a leave of absence if they are running for office and resign if they are elected, Harwood said.
"I think what's important is that we as a party mature and reflect the kind of governance we would like to see in Victoria," said Olsen, who also serves as the party's spokesman for strengthening trust in government.
Olsen said the B.C. Greens are focused on building on momentum generated by the elections of three Green city councillors in Vancouver and federal Green Party MP Paul Manly in Nanaimo, along with the P.E.I. Greens' new status as Official Opposition in their province.
"The public is now starting to see Greens winning elections or being successful in ways that we were never successful in the past," said Olsen.
"The message that the Greens have been talking about for the last 30 years is now front and centre," he said, pointing to growing public awareness of climate change as a factor in the growth of Green parties across Canada.
Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press