Legal fees undermine PC party’s financial statements

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The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba’s annual financial statements were released on Friday, showing it raised roughly the same amount in 2021 as the year before – and had a huge legal bill.

PCs raised $1,423,768 in contributions in 2021, slightly less than the $1,487,151 received in 2020, the documents show.

Most of the money the Conservatives raised last year ($861,983) came from people who gave $250 or more.

The largest expense was salaries ($483,640), followed by legal and audit fees. The party spent $279,633 on legal fees in 2021, nearly 10 times the amount spent in 2020 ($28,224).

PC Premier Brian Pallister resigned in August 2021. The race to replace him as party leader has been divisive and the outcome of the vote has been challenged in court.

After longtime minister Heather Stefanson scored a victory, former MP Shelly Glover challenged the result in the Court of Queen’s Bench. The judge then ruled that there may have been “irregularities”, but nothing that could have changed the result.

Party funds raised in 2021 are significantly lower than in previous years. In 2018, PCs brought in $1.9 million; in 2019 (an election year), over $2 million was raised.

With the next general election slated for no later than Oct. 3, 2023, and the Conservatives trailing the NDP in current polls, the fundraising ‘malaise’ of late is to be expected, says the political studies professor from the University of Manitoba, Christopher Adams.

In 2015, a year before PCs formed government in 2016, they raised nearly $2.4 million, while the NDP raised $900,000.

“Contributions are a way to measure some kind of support,” Adams said Friday. “We knew in 2015 and 2014 that the NDP was struggling to gain popularity. People were unhappy with a provincial sales tax increase and the Conservatives were on a roll.

“I would say right now there’s a sense of unease in the general public for PCs and we’re seeing that in the polling data. So I’m not surprised if their financial numbers are down from there. years ago, when they looked like they were on the rise.”

As for the individual donors listed in the documents, a surprising contributor was Patrick Allard, who publicly opposed the province’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and ran as an independent in the by-election. of Fort Whyte.

On Friday, Allard said he made the $521 donation before the PC government’s “mishandling of COVID.”

Stefanson made the largest donation to the PC party in 2021, capping the limit at $5,000. Stefanson’s husband contributed $3,825 and a combined $3,660 was donated by Stefanson’s family.

Pallister and his wife Esther donated a total of $5,312. Pallister left his seat in the Legislative Assembly on October 4.

The second largest donation to the party came from Tessa Mostert, who donated $4,000.

Other large and notable donors include members of the Borger family (founders of the heavy construction and development company Ladco Company Inc.), who donated more than $30,000 combined; Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries’ new vice-president and real estate developer Tim Comack, who contributed $3,750; David Asper, lawyer and chair of the Manitoba Police Commission, who donated $3,750; and philanthropist and specialty wine store owner Tina Jones, who donated $3,750.

Three Tory MPs who held seats in 2021 were not among those who donated $250 or more: Morden-Winkler MP Cameron Friesen, Riding Mountain MP Greg Nesbitt and Selkirk MP Alan Lagimodiere.

“Cameron Friesen’s 2021 year-end donation was made at the start of 2022, and therefore had to be attributed to the year in which it was made,” a party spokesperson said Friday evening. .

The party had received a filing extension “due to a historic PC leadership race and the treatment of thousands of new members”, the spokesman said.

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Danielle DaSilva
Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people who call Manitoba home, Carol joined the office of the Legislative Assembly in early 2020.

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