Category Archives: OpenTomorrow

Candidates challenged on election expenses

Greens and NDP offer glimpse of campaign costs

Campaigning 2015

The 2015 Canadian federal election campaign has been dominated by a drive to unseat Prime Minister Stephen Harper, depicted, left, in an anti-Harper poster opposite Liberal and NDP signs in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Candidates for Canada’s parliament have revealed campaign expenses to Tomorrow as part of our #OpenTomorrow transparency campaign.

With the national vote set for October 19, we went to the offices of Halifax candidates Andy Fillmore for the Liberal Party of Canada, Irvine Carvery of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) and Megan Leslie of the New Democratic Party (NDP). We also contacted Dr Thomas Trappenberg representing the Green Party of Canada and Allan Bezanson of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada by email.1

We invited each campaign to offer any one election receipt for examination and publication by Tomorrow.

Dr Trappenberg offered three receipts, all printing costs, from his fight to represent the Halifax constituency totalling $688.08.

The campaign of incumbent Megan Leslie, deputy leader of the NDP,2 did not offer a receipt at the time of the visit but replied a few days later with one for printing costs, at $172.50. Her total spending as a member of parliament is detailed on a government site, but not to a receipt level.3

Mr Bezanson said he had no election expenses at all.

Believe it or not I submit a nil expense report,” he emailed. “As a candidate I spend nothing. My Party incurs some expenses and whatever money I raise in amounts under $20 I submit to the national party organization.”

A party worker at Mr Fillmore’s office, when asked, said, “I don’t know” and made a note of the media request. Tomorrow has heard no further.

The lights were on in Mr Carvery’s office but there was nobody present. Tomorrow reached out later by email to offer him the same opportunity at transparency.

As part of the rules on campaign spending, the taxpayer provides a post-election rebate of 50 per cent to political parties, meaning Canadians are on the hook for half of what candidates use to win votes, regardless of whether they ultimately win.4

Dr Trappenberg, a professor of computer science at Dalhousie University,5 said transparency was important and often overlooked, and that he was happy to show all his campaign expenses.

He told Tomorrow by email: “I thought it quite ironic that [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper was campaigning on transparency and he is the worst offender.

“Our leader Elizabeth May has been exemplary on transparency and we have consistently called for transparency.

“In our platform we clearly state:

‘Green MPs will publish their expenses online, to ensure maximum transparency and accountability, and never use Parliamentary resources for party or personal benefit.’”

He added: “I think transparency must even go much further. If something is done in secret, there must be something wrong.

“I sit on several committees which often go ‘in-camera’. This should only be used when talking about personal cases (e.g. when talking about individual student cases as I am working at a university). Instead it is often used to keep something secret such as strategy. I don’t need a secret strategy and can say openly what I do.”

Megan Leslie campaign

Campaign office in Halifax of Megan Leslie. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence

Christine Ackermann, running communications for the local NDP campaign, said in an email statement: “Megan Leslie has always been a transparent and accountable Member of Parliament. Her expenses have been published on her website for years. When the election campaign began, we provided a link to her MP site through the campaign website menu. It is on which you will find her expenses posted under the Transparent and Accountable button.”

The expenses incurred by elected – or appointed – politicians has been subject of controversy in Canada, the UK, the US and around the world. But campaign spending has been more typically reduced to reports on the costs totalling tens of millions by parties on a national or regional level with little detail. There are court cases involving election spending dating to the last Canadian federal election in 2011.

According to Elections Canada, a spending limit per party with a full slate of candidates has risen from $49,270,292 to $128,087,430 – this is calculated by party and by candidate and massively increased because of the length of the campaign. Third party advertising has ballooned from $150,000 per group to $439,411. The individual candidate spending limit in Halifax is $204,329.68.6. The national spending limit of the five parties running in Halifax are:7

  • CPC: $54,936,320.15
  • Green: $54,893,641.14
  • Liberal: $54,936,320.15
  • Marxist-Leninist: $11,912,050.15
  • NDP: $54,936,320.15

Are you a candidate or third party and want to show us campaign receipts? Get in touch.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.



No relevant issues on principles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 or 10.

6. A duty to openness: All receipts were requested to meet Tomorrow’s duty to champion openness. At the request of the Megan Leslie campaign, because the submitted invoice is from a private and not business address, we have blacked this out. The email address on the invoice is available on the website and therefore considered public.
11. Promote responsible debate and mediation: How should election finance be governed? How much transparency should there be and what limits would you apply?

  1. Formal Elections Canada list of candidates in the riding of Halifax.
  2. Campaign website for Megan Leslie.
  3. Canadian parliament MP expenses for Megan Leslie.
  4. Elections Canada’s website details spending rules from 2011. The 50 per cent rebate is still valid.
  5. Candidate profile from the Green Party.
  6. Elections Canada details of constituency spending limits.
  7. National limits set by Elections Canada are based on the number of candidates, hence CPC, Liberal and NDP having equal limits.

Justin Trudeau won’t open up about Liberal MP expenses

UPDATE, June 5, 2013: Justin Trudeau has reportedly now proposed to publish, quaterly, details of travel and hospitality expenses for MPs, senators and staff. The statement about this plan was made a month after Tomorrow asked whether he would follow through with his own call for “openness”. Mr Trudeau has still not answered Tomorrow’s question, but has made this move on openness. Is it enough? Tomorrow asked the same question of the Conservative Party of Canada’s Peter Van Loan MP and the New Democratic Party’s Nathan Cullen MP. Neither have responded as yet.


CANADA’S newest political party leader has failed to answer whether he will reveal the expenses of his MPs and senators.

Justin Trudeau, who took the helm of the Liberal Party of Canada in April after a lengthy campaign to follow in the footsteps of his father and former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, has not responded to a yes-or-no question about expenses paid by the public purse.

Our #OpenTomorrow campaign requires that we fight for openness on the part of organisations, governments and individuals of influence where it is in the public interest, especially when it involves public funds and makes an impact on the public.

Mr Trudeau repeatedly uses the word “openness” in his speeches about Canada and what Canadians expect of their government.

But both elected MPs and unelected senators have opposed detailed accounting of their spending, which contribute to the more than $1/2 billion cost to the public.1

Through Mr Trudeau’s press spokeswoman, Kate Monfette, Tomorrow asked if he would tell his MPs and senators to release their expenses, or free them to do so. If not, what reason was there for not publishing spending details.

Tomorrow emailed four times and phoned three times from May 3 and has still not received a reply.

We asked:

In both Mr Trudeau’s leadership showcase speech and in his acceptance of the leadership of the party, he said the Liberal Party of Canada would champion “openness”. As such, can Mr Trudeau confirm whether he will lead by example and, yes or no:

A) Instruct all Liberal MPs and Senators to proactively publish their full and detailed expenses, with receipts?

or B) Give all Liberal MPs and Senators the freedom to choose to proactively publish their full and detailed expenses, with receipts, as Michelle Simson did when she was a Liberal MP or as Green MP Elizabeth May does currently?

If no, can Mr Trudeau confirm what would prevent the “openness” of MPs currently?2

In Mr Trudeau’s speech for the Liberal leadership “showcase” on April 6, 2013, he said: “With hope and hard work, every day Canadians live the values that unite this country. Optimism, openness, compassion, service to community, generosity of spirit.”3

When he was announced as party leader, on April 14, the MP for Papineau, Quebec, said: “Canadians share deep values that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard the Conservative Party may try. Optimism. Openness. Compassion. Service to community.”4

Canada’s previous auditor general, Sheila Fraser, asked permission from MPs and senators in 2009 to do a performance audit, but both rejected the attempt.

When a report was finally submitted in 2012 by current auditor general Michael Ferguson to parliament’s Board of Internal Economy, it did not name names behind some of the irregularities found. It concluded the “appropriate control systems” were in place.5

Senators and MPs were given a pay rise from April 1, 2013, making their base pay $135,000 and $160,200 respectively. They claim expenses over and above those rates, which also do not include bonuses for posts such as speaker, party leader, ministers, committee chairpeople and others.


What do you think? Should all expenses and receipts be published regularly for MPs and senators? Are you an elected representative and would like to publish your expenses but your party won’t let you? Get in touch.