Rona Ambrose's fundraiser leaves N.B. Tories in awkward position
Bruce Fitch has been hammering Premier Brian Gallant for attending Liberal fundraisers in Calgary, Vancouver
Federal interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose was preaching Tory togetherness during a visit to New Brunswick, but the close embrace may put her provincial PC allies in an awkward position.
Ambrose's Friday schedule included a $75-per-person fundraising dinner in Woodstock for the federal party's Tobique-Mactaquac riding association.
Several provincial Progressive Conservative MLAs, including interim leader Bruce Fitch attended the event, even though it's the same kind of fundraiser for which they've been criticizing Premier Brian Gallant.
On Friday afternoon in Fredericton, Ambrose mistakenly said the fundraiser was "a combined event to support both the provincial and the federal party."
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Fitch's office quickly corrected that, telling CBC News it was a fundraiser for the federal party only.
But the invitation for the event didn't make that distinction. It featured both the federal and provincial party logos, and photos of both Ambrose and Fitch.
"One of the things that I have tried to do is bring the federal party closer to our provincial counterparts. … Bruce Fitch and I are going to have a dinner together and show collaboration."
Fitch's PC opposition at the legislature has relentlessly criticized Gallant for attending fundraisers for the New Brunswick Liberals in Calgary and Vancouver.
Both Liberal fundraisers took place while Gallant was travelling on taxpayer-funded government business.
Gallant has defended gathering party donations on the side, saying "It's a normal thing for any political party to do fundraisers across the country or in the province."
Liberal fundraiser criticized
The PCs have also criticized a New Brunswick Liberal fundraiser held in Fredericton in February.
It featured Gallant, the premiers of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and several federal Liberal cabinet ministers, who were in the city for government meetings.
At the time, Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLaughlan and Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil both said they were attending the fundraiser in their spare time, the same explanation Ambrose's office provided Friday.
The federal Conservative leader was attending the Woodstock dinner "on her own time," her communications director Mike Storeshaw said in a Friday email.
He confirmed Ambrose's trip was taxpayer-funded because most of her events were in her role of leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons.
That included visiting a Red Cross call centre in Fredericton where employees were helping Fort McMurray residents displaced by the forest fire there and participating in a fundraiser for a family who lost their home in the fire.