Liberals target Scheer over cash-for-access fundraisers

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rises during Question Period in the House of Commons, Monday, January 28, 2019 in Ottawa. The federal Liberal party is looking to turn the tables on the Conservatives over so-called cash-for-access fundraisers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - The federal Liberal party is looking to turn the tables on the Conservatives over so-called cash-for-access fundraisers.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is expected to attend a fundraiser at the Toronto home of Sen. Linda Frum, which has been rescheduled from Tuesday to next week because of the weather.

The Conservatives roasted Trudeau in 2016 over fundraisers where the prime minister and his cabinet attended exclusive parties in private homes. People paid as much as $1,500 — the maximum the law allowed at the time in annual donations to one party — to rub shoulders with ministers. The maximum donation this year is $1,600.

In response, the Liberals started allowing the media to be present at their party events and releasing lists of attendees afterward.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Small Business Minister Mary Ng accused Scheer of doing the same thing his party once abhorred.

Ng said Scheer should allow journalists to attend the event at Frum's home or face questions about "who is lobbying him or what promises he's making in secret."

Cory Hann, a Conservative party spokesman, said the meet-and-greet is in line with Elections Canada rules. The guest list includes donors and non-donors, he said, and the event itself is free.

He said the party will accommodate media coverage of fundraisers when possible, "and if the size, location, or any other variables allow for it, we will always open the event for Mr. Scheer's remarks."

New rules that came into effect Dec. 21 require parties to disclose fundraising events to Elections Canada, which then publicly posts the details of where and when they're held, followed later by a report on who was there and the cost to attend. The rules apply to events attended by ministers, party leaders or leadership candidates.

The event at Frum's is the first fundraising event the Conservative are reporting under the new regime.

The Liberals have reported six events, including one scheduled for Friday at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York hotel.

Last week, the Conservatives reported that preliminary fundraising figures show they raised $24 million in 2018 from more than 49,000 donors.


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