Rural Westman’s top political fundraiser appears to be Riding Mountain Progressive Conservative MLA Leanne Rowat after her run in the 2011 general election attracted close to $32,000 in individual donations.
Rowat received $3,000 donations — the maximum allowed under Manitoba law — from Lori Gallant, David Klassen and Bryce Patterson during the campaign period set by Elections Manitoba.
Other four-figure donations included a $1,500 contribution from Perry Bulbuck and $1,000 offerings from Twila Guillas, Brian Kiliwnik, Melissa Klassen, Ian Sarna, Lydia Sarna and Norm Sims.
Of the $31,890 raised during the campaign period, Rowat received $20,550 in donations $250 or more, the most of any rural Westman candidate.
The campaign period ranges from the time the candidate is nominated to Dec. 5, 2011, the deadline set by Elections Manitoba. Rowat’s campaign in Riding Mountain started on March 3, 2011, giving her a relatively short time to raise funds.
Arthur-Virden Progressive Conservative MLA Larry Maguire was next with $27,486.91, and had a campaign period 4 1/2 months longer than Rowat.
Maguire raised $20,075 of those funds through contributions over the $250 threshold, but only had three donors who gave $1,000 or more.
Maguire himself chipped in $1,500 for the cause, while Rick Kenderline donated $1,275 and Trevor Hicks gave $1,000 to the campaign.
Agassiz Progressive Conservative MLA Stu Briese was next with $24,924.25 in private donations. That generated the largest surplus of any Westman candidate, with $12,043.43 being transferred back to the provincial party’s coffers.
Briese donated $3,000 to the cause, while Maurice Gingras gave $2,500 to the campaign. Dennis Vielfaure contributed $1,500, while Barbara Harris wrote a cheque for $1,000.
Cullen donated $1,200 to his own campaign, while Claude Vielfaure made the largest donation of $1,500.
The returns submitted to Elections Manitoba show political parties are using different methods of both fundraising and financial reporting.
Where Progressive Conservative candidates are, for the most part, relying on their own local fundraising efforts to fund their campaigns, the central New Democratic Party campaign has funnelled money out to its constituency campaigns in bulk, with relatively few dollars collected from individual donors.
"We give more independence to the individual candidates to make local decisions about their campaigns," said Jonathan Scarth, CEO of the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba.
"We also rely on our held ridings to help out with fundraising for the non-held ridings that don’t have as great of a capability for fundraising."
That translates into larger private fundraising efforts in Tory strongholds such as the rural Westman constituencies, but also helps explain the New Democratic Party’s funding trends in the region.
For example, Albert Parsons relied on $11,785 from the local constituency association and $2,912 from the central provincial campaign to represent the New Democrats in Riding Mountain, while collecting $79.03 from individual donations.
In Arthur-Virden, the provincial New Democrats gave $7,833 to candidate Gary Draper, with another $5,000 coming from the local constituency association.
Agassiz New Democratic Party candidate Amity Sagness had only $1,231.28 to spend, and all of it came from the provincial campaign.
Spruce Woods NDP candidate Cory Szczepanski has not filed his paperwork with Elections Manitoba yet after being granted an extension to March 30.
Calls to New Democratic Party provincial secretary Nanci Morrison for comment on the strategy were not returned. However, the strategy was used across Westman, including in Brandon East, where Drew Caldwell held on to the lone NDP seat in the region.
"When money is raised in a local constituency campaign, it’s the Manitoba NDP that gives our tax receipts out," Caldwell said.
"So it goes into the NDP and the party decides what share goes into the constituency that raised the money, whether it’s 10 per cent, 20 per cent or what have you. In our party, it depends on the period (of the election cycle). It could be 30 per cent or 50 per cent or 70 per cent."
Scarth said the Tories’ top three Westman fundraisers have been successful enough that some of their campaign funds can be allocated to support other constituency campaigns with a demonstrated need.
"In the case of Brandon East with Mike Waddell, we’d be in touch with his campaign and if the fundraising was going well, that’s great," Scarth said.
"As for early on in the campaign, it’s often the case where they need a transfer of funds before they get their fundraising efforts going and we would look after that with the goal of ensuring they have a competitive campaign on the ground."
Three Liberal candidates secured modest amounts through individual donations, while receiving smaller transfers from the central campaign, save for Murray Cliff in Arthur-Virden, who reported no donations, and no expenses.
Those private donations ranged from $1,490 to Gary Sallows in Agassiz to $560.35 to Signe Knutson in Riding Mountain.
Raising money is one component to political campaigns, but so is the complete financial picture after the campaign. Here’s how Westman’s candidates fared when the bills were added up after the candidacy period as reported in their Elections Manitoba financial statements. Surplus funds are transferred back to the provincial political party organizations. Surpluses listed include funds transferred to the political party during the election period.