Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Leadership Convention Made Money

The Liberal Leadership Convention in Montreal made a profit. I bring this up for many who seem to think holding such a convention would bankrupt the party. For those who argue Stephane Dion should stay I suggest you stop using the fiscal argument against holding a Leadership Convention because as the last one made a profit, such an argument would actually go against your intended purpose and only add reasons to hold one.

From the story that circulated last February concerning the Party had turned such a profit it actually reimbursed leadership candidates their entry fees:

Rae wins battle for leadership race fees
By Richard Foot, Canwest News Service
Published: Monday, February 25, 2008

Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has won his legal battle to be refunded the $50,000 he paid as an entry fee into the 2006 federal Liberal leadership race.

Rae and 10 other contenders paid $50,000 apiece to the Liberal Party upon entering the campaign. The money was meant to help the party cover the costs of the leadership convention at which Stephane Dion was elected leader.

However, the party made a healthy profit on the convention. When it asked Elections Canada if it could reimburse the entry fees to each of the candidates - many of whom were indebted by the contest - the agency said no.

Elections Canada said recent amendments to the Elections Act, designed to limit campaign contributions to individual candidates, did not allow the party to transfer money to the contenders.

Rae asked the Federal Court to intervene. On Monday it said refunding the candidates their $50,000 fees was not illegal, because the money came from them in the first place.

The 11 candidates all took out loans to finance their leadership campaigns, leaving cumulative debts of about $3 million after the convention.

Rae himself owed about $220,000 after the campaign.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Rae spokeswoman Sheila Gervais after reading the court ruling. "This is extremely good news not just for our campaign but for all the leadership contenders."

Gervais said Rae will have paid off all but about $15,000 of his leadership debt after getting his money back from the party.

The Liberals' national president Marie Poulin said the party was pleased with the ruling and would soon be returning $50,000 to all 11 former candidates.


WesternGrit said...

I may have commented on the costs of a convention, but I'm more concerned about the cost to the delegates/members...

For a party that needs money for advertising and/or combating "enemy" attack ads, we need to raise money from a membership that can't blow all it's money on conventions and fancy dinners...

Good points about the convention making money though... Does this include the flight subsidies, etc.? Can you post how much we made on the convention?


Anonymous said...

Don't the Cons. have a better way of picking their leader..not as they use delegates ?

Anonymous said...

Westerngrit: From looking at our returns I can say in 2006, there was a total 6.3 million dollars made from Conventions. The Party spent a total 4.5 million on conventions. Thus conventions in 2006 generated 1.8 million dollars.


Deb Prothero said...

Have to agree with WesternGrit on this one. The cost to the party comes from the delegates. The cost of a convention means a wide range of delegates can't attend - only the well-off. Then those delegates are over their limit for several months and can't contribute. That's the problem.

We need a new process. I like a big party as much as the next person but my entire budget was out of whack for a year afterward. Not all low income party members would have the discipline or the desire to go through that. I went because I wanted to participate in a leadership convention and represent the voices in my riding.

The Liberal party needs to be more inclusive because its the party of all income levels. It's unfair to make the conventions only available to the rich.

We missed a great opportunity when we failed to pass the One Member One Vote policy in Montreal. Belinda Stronach and many others spoke passionately about it but the vote failed because the ex-officios took a few minutes from their hand-wringing to vote against it.

Anonymous said...

Deb: I agree with you. A few posts ago I said the same thing. However the delegate system has to change eventually, so why not change it now in May.


James Curran said...

Surely you jest?

The convention itself was a net gain for LPC. But, 11 leadership candidates were saddled with astronomical debts.

My point? The millions that were spent paying off leadership debts by party donors could have been in the LPC coffers.

As a result of the brutal leadership (it hasn't even been 2 years yet) we members are suffering serious donor fatigue. Throw in another million provincial elections and municipal elections and, voila, no money left to donate.

Personally, Dion should stay and start firing some assholes. There's lots of us groundtroopers that will recruit support for him.

Anonymous said...

James: Most leadership candidates owe nothing, and those that do barely owe a thing. Also I suggest you look at their original returns, most only owed the loans they had taken out which were a fraction of their expenses.

Furthermore when one looks at the fact 2006 was the best year for the party in fundraising and surplus suggesting financial considerations as a reason not to hold a convention appears to be unfounded.

You can disagree but hopefully you point to some evidence to support your opinion.