29 August 2011

Paving the way

Paving and asphalt companies in the province gave $52, 575 in political contributions to the provincial Conservatives between 2004 and 2009, according to figures available from the province’s Chief Electoral Officer.

But the same companies gave a mere $500 to the provincial Liberal Party and not a penny to the New Democratic Party.

By contrast between 1996 and 2003, paving companies gave $52,565 to the provincial Liberals.

But unlike their tight-fisted way with the opposition after 2004, the companies gave $35,150 to the province’s Conservatives while they were in opposition. 

They gave nothing to the New Democratic Party.

paving donations

What’s also noticeable when you chart the donations by party and year is the second dramatic shift after the Conservatives came back to power in late 2003.

The biggest donation periods before 2004 were in the election years of 1996, 1999 and 2003. In other years, the total politically donations dropped off dramatically.

But under the Conservatives, spiked in the 2007 election, but they also stayed relatively high in 2006 and 2009.  They jumped again in 2009 to almost $15,000. 

Road paving and politics became an issue last week when former Conservative Brad Cabana publicly recounted what he said were comments made by tourism minister Terry French at last fall’s provincial Conservative Party convention.  Cabana told a local talk show audience that French suggested Tory party volunteers hit up local paving companies for campaign donations.

French called the same show and said that he did not remember saying any such thing.  He also called Cabana a scumbag and a political prostitute.

After that episode, your humble e-scribbler scanned the official election contributions records available from the Chief Electoral Office for records of donations by any companies with the words “paving” or “asphalt” in the company name.

Other companies may be involved in the road paving business.  They may or may not have made political contributions in the period for which records are readily available.

While the information above doesn’t support or refute Cabana’s contention, the pattern of the contributions and the changes after the Conservatives came to office are curious.

This isn’t the first time someone has drawn a connection between provincial road paving and politics.  labradore has blogged extensively on the pattern of paving contracts and road construction work that has tended to favour Conservative districts over Liberal ones since 2004.

- srbp -