POLITICS

Some of the biggest spenders among federal parties' riding associations

07/18/2013 04:35 EDT | Updated 09/16/2013 05:12 EDT
OTTAWA - The Canadian Press analyzed the 2012 financial reports of electoral district associations (EDAs) in the country's 308 ridings.

None of the Conservative associations responded to requests for details about how they spent their money. Some of the bigger spending Liberal associations did provide some details.

Here are some of the biggest spenders:

— International Development Minister Christian Paradis' Megantic-L'Erable association reported the highest spending on professional services ($45,377) and the highest "other" revenue ($60,927).

— Newly minted Labour Minister Kellie Leitch's Simcoe-Grey association had the highest "other" expenses ($65,231).

— Conservative backbencher John Carmichael's Don Valley West association reported the fifth-highest total revenues ($160,751) and the highest contributions ($136,801).

— Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae's Toronto Centre association reported the fourth highest spending on travel and hospitality ($15,445).

Association president Craig Knowles said travel and hospitality included the cost of subsidizing members who attended party conventions and of hosting "many community events, BBQs and picnics."

"Toronto Centre is an active riding with a good cash resource base compared to other ridings," Knowles said in an email.

"We have maintained successful fundraising and been fortunate to be able to participate actively in both community and Liberal party. That explains why we have high expenses in some categories."

— The Liberal association in the Montreal riding of Bourassa, where Denis Coderre recently resigned in order to run for mayor, reported the third highest "other" expenses ($50,604) and the fourth highest "other" revenue.

The association's financial agent, Robert Richard, said the "other revenue" consisted of the proceeds from a $35-a-head spaghetti dinner, attended by some 1,300 people. The event was designed to break even, not make money and could, therefore, not be classified as donations or fundraising revenue, he said.

The "other expenses" were mostly the cost of staging the spaghetti dinner, Richard said.

— The Liberal association in Toronto's Eglinton-Lawrence riding posted the second highest professional services expenses ($30,920) and the third highest "other expenses" ($47,000).

Its financial agent, Greg Van Staveren, did not provide a detailed explanation of those numbers but said the expenses were related to the association's efforts to get to the bottom of the so-called robocall scandal during the 2011 election, in which the riding's incumbent Liberal, Joe Volpe, was defeated.

"The Eglinton-Lawrence EDA was the first to formally petition Elections Canada concerning voter suppression techniques and electoral irregularities during the last election and has been actively pursuing resolution since then," Van Staveren said in an email.

"That pursuit has resulted in incremental expenses to the EDA."

— Green party Leader Elizabeth May's Saanich-Gulf Islands association reported salaries and benefits expenses of $16,567 — second only to the Liberal riding association in Newton-North Delta. Bob Baynham, the association's chair, said a part-time executive director was hired to help turn the EDA into a model for Greens across the country.

"We have a half-time executive director who provides ongoing staff support to help us develop a strong EDA that can serve as a model for other Green EDAs," Baynham said in an email.