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Tories Spent $21 Million To Secure Election Win

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HARPER WIN
Prime Minister Stephen Harper after his majority win during a media availability in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday May 3, 2011. New Figures show the Conservative party spent $21 million to win its majority. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld | CP

CP -- OTTAWA — The Conservative party said Saturday it spent $21 million to win its coveted majority in the May 2 election.

That was the maximum allowed to be spent under Elections Canada rules.

Conservative Senator and chief fundraiser Irving Gerstein told the party's policy convention that all the campaign bills have now been paid and the party has cash in the bank.

He said the party was also on track to break fundraising records for the first two quarters of this year.

But Gerstein urged the party faithful to keep the money rolling in as the Tories will need to make up for the $12 million they will lose when the government cuts the per-vote-political subsidy to political parties. The subsidy gives $2 for each vote a party wins in an election.

Ending the subsidy has been a long-time Tory goal and attempts to do it in 2008 created a political furor that almost toppled the Conservative government. But the party's majority status in the House of Commons means the government will easily get the measure through this time around.

Gerstein said critics who argue that the per-vote subsidy tilts the political playing field just need to up their fundraising game.
"When it comes to fundraising the playing field is perfectly level," he said.

"Every party has an equal right and equal opportunity to attract voluntary donations from Canadians and to spend their donations to communicate their ideas."

Gerstein was among the four Tory officials who were charged with violating the Elections Act over how they financed their 2006 campaign.

It's alleged the so-called "in-and-out'' financing scheme permitted the party to exceed its $18.3-million limit by more than $1 million. The Tories say they did nothing wrong.

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