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About that Ajax statement on election campaign funding

October 03, 2014 - 4:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - The company behind the Ajax Mine proposal made a point of noting it won't contribute money to political candidates, but it’s not that simple.

Even though the city has little say in whether the open pit gold and copper mine gets the go-ahead, the proposed mine is a major issue for candidates in this municipal election. Many have declared support for or against. After questions were asked publicly about which candidates the mine was backing, the company replied on Facebook.

“KGHM Ajax wants the community to know we will not offer any candidate direct or indirect financial support in this civic election campaign,” the post said.

But according to Elections B.C. last year the company made a $2,000 contribution to the B.C. Liberals on March 1 and then a $10,000 contribution on Dec. 31. The company also made an $800 contribution to the B.C. NDP on Apr. 2.

KGHM spokesperson Yves Lacasse says they weren't donations, they were for public relations as company officials attended party functions and events.

“We get tonnes and tonnes of invitations for a dinner here, a dinner there,” he says. “Whenever we get this stuff we do support, we meet a lot of people in the community that way. We do go to a lot of them, (and) they’re usually well attended.”

He says heading into the 2013 provincial elections his company attended Liberal, NDP and Conservative functions, all by invitation.

“Any invitation we got, we went to, especially during the election,” Lacasse says. “We don’t look for the events, we get these all the time. We say no to very few that ask.”

He says the budget for attending events is different than the one for donations and sponsorship and falls under different company policy as well.

“We have a very strong corporate social responsibility program,” he says of why they attend so many events. “We want to be seen in the community.”

Asked if that means the company would buy tickets for a local candidate's 'social event,' Lacasse says he wouldn't answer a hypothetical question. He said was asked by one candidate for financial support and they turned them down.

On the sponsorship and donation guidelines document readily available on the company website a list of eligible applications and exclusions is clearly outlined. Direct donations to politics is one of the five exclusions outlined in that document.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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