NDP: Christy Clark’s “Wild West” of political cash draws international headlines again

Christy Clark

CHRISTY Clark’s Liberals are refusing to answer questions after a New York Times investigation revealed more than $140 million in British Columbians’ tax dollars have flowed to a secret list of companies since 2008 under a system of corporate tax breaks led by Christy Clark’s former campaign chair and former Finance Minister Colin Hansen, the NDP said on Wednesday.

The Liberals have refused to reveal the identities of the program’s 82 clients and could provide no evidence that the program creates jobs, the NDP said.

Although the full list remains a secret, Hansen admits that the majority of the members of Advantage BC are registered for this program. Those members have given $5.8 million to the BC Liberals.

Former member-firms include PacNet, a payment processing company listed by the US Treasury Department as a significant international criminal organization for its “lengthy history of money laundering.”

Former Finance Minister Mike de Jong refused to answer questions about whether British Columbians have a right know who else is receiving publicly-funded tax breaks.

The Liberals redesigned the program in 2010 to allow high-paid foreigners to receive “new generous tax breaks unavailable to Canadian residents,” according to The New York Times. These include refunds for conducting real estate activities with foreigners – including providing mortgage loans to international buyers – but not for offering the same services to buyers from British Columbia, fueling foreign speculation of BC real estate.

The BC Liberals expanded the program again in 2014 for foreign banks. Members now include the Bank of China and subsidiaries of Chinese state-owned companies.

The NDP said that this leaves a few big questions for Clark:

  1. Why did you expand the program to offer tax breaks for helping foreigners buy real estate that aren’t available to Canadian residents?
  2. Doesn’t this fuel foreign speculation and drive up housing costs?
  3. Mike de Jong has refused to say which companies are receiving taxpayer-supported benefits: do you think British Columbians have a right to know where their tax dollars are going?
  4. Why are you hiking taxes and fees on British Columbians while secretly giving away hundreds of millions of dollars to foreign companies?