Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Two Conservative Riding Associations Return Event Proceeds to Donors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Two Conservative Riding Associations Return Event Proceeds to Donors

Article excerpt

Two Tory EDAs repay proceeds from fundraisers


OTTAWA - A pair of Conservative campaigns that were forced to refund the proceeds from two separate fundraising events earlier this year say Canada's new political financing law should not be applied retroactively.

Two Ontario riding associations returned proceeds from the January events -- one attended by Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt in Mississauga--Streetsville, the other featuring foreign affairs critic Erin O'Toole in his Durham riding.

Because of loose ends arising from their bids for the Conservative leadership in 2017, Elections Canada considered Raitt and O'Toole to be leadership candidates at the time of the fundraisers under rules in Bill C-50, which took effect in December.

That law, introduced last summer by Electoral Reform Minister Karina Gould, requires events that feature a prominent attendee -- a leadership contestant, a party leader, an interim leader, or a cabinet minister -- to be reported to Elections Canada, which the riding associations did not do.

O'Toole, who was forced to return about $30,000 from what was his largest riding association event of the year, said he disagrees with what he called Elections Canada's interpretation of the law, which he didn't learn about until several weeks after his fundraiser.

The forgone proceeds, combined with how long it took to find out Elections Canada was applying the law retroactively, was "quite frustrating" and "not great form," O'Toole said in an email.

There's nothing in the bill to suggest it would apply to candidates from races that were completed before the bill came into force last year, O'Toole added.

"From a legal perspective, all legislation is prospective -- going forward in time only -- unless there is express government intention to apply the new rules to past events," O'Toole said.

"There was no such intention when Minister Gould introduced the bill. …

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