Nfld. & Labrador

Liberal bank account boasts 12 times more cash than PC war chest

Finding a leader and getting him elected was a major drain on the Tory bank account.

Progressive Conservatives 10 days late filing finance reports, fined $500

Dwight Ball and the Liberal Party have more in their bank account than Ches Crosbie and the Progressive Conservatives. (Katie Breen/CBC)

The sitting government outpaced the Opposition party in fundraising last year, while the PCs outspent the Liberals on a major byelection that saw Tory Leader Ches Crosbie get elected.

These details were outlined in financial reports filed this month with Elections NL — reports which the Progressive Conservative Party filed 10 days late, resulting in a $500 fine.

The Liberals headed into 2019 with $172,000 in their bank account.

That's 12 times the amount of the Progressive Conservative Party, and 21 times the amount held by the NDP.

  • Liberal: $835,000 raised, $172,543 in the bank.
  • PC: $107,180 raised, $14,947 in the bank.
  • NDP: $93,688 raised, $8,297 in the bank.

Problem with the bank, Crosbie says

The finance reports were due April 1 — a target that was hit by the Liberals and NDP, but the Tories didn't file papers until April 10.

"It's just a matter of administrative delay," said Crosbie. "It's really a formality that the bank was slow to see through."

Crosbie said the party had all of its documents in order, but needed a confirmation from its bank on how much was in the account. A request was sent but didn't get rectified.

Opposition leader Crosbie says he takes a hands-off approach to party finances. (CBC)

When CBC News questioned Crosbie about the finance report on Wednesday afternoon, it had not yet been posted online. An hour later, the process was finalized and the report was published, showing $14,947 in the account.

Crosbie said he takes a hands-off approach to financial issues, delegating responsibilities instead.

"It's my job to be leader, and that doesn't require me to look after the finances of the party, unless there's a problem [then] I'll get involved in it, but I have good people doing these things and I trust them to do their jobs."

He was then asked if being 10 days late on a mandatory filing was classified as a problem.

"I'd classify it more as a technical problem and it's being dealt with today, as soon as I found out about it."

Crosbie was also asked if he knew how much was in their account heading into the election.

"I actually don't know that either," he replied. "I know that people are in charge of that and working very hard at it and we've made very satisfactory progress, but I can't give you actual dollar amounts, because I don't know them."

The PCs made progress over the previous year's fundraising totals, increasing from $56,000 in 2017 to $82,190 in 2018.

Finding new leader had big costs

The filings show the enormous cost associated with getting a new leader, and then getting him in the House of Assembly.

The PC Party spent $131,590 on a leadership campaign that eventually established Crosbie as the head of the party. 

Crosbie won his seat in the Windsor Lake byelection, where his party outspent the Liberals, despite raising less money. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

But Crosbie then had to earn a seat in the legislature through a byelection.

Despite taking in far less revenue through fundraising, the PC Party outspent the Liberals in a battle to fill the vacated seat of Cathy Bennett in Windsor Lake.

The Tories listed $39,523 in byelection expenses for the 2018 calendar year, while the Liberals spent $33,154.

In the end, Crosbie won the byelection, edging out Liberal opponent Paul Antle, as well as NDP candidate Kerri Claire Neil.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Katie Breen

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