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Liberals won despite being heavily outspent in Thunder Bay-Superior North, Kenora

THUNDER BAY -- Spending the most money does not always guarantee political success.
Liberal Patty Hadju spent far less than her NDP and Green Party rivals in last fall's federal election, but still managed to win her Thunder Bay-Superior North seat. (Leith Dunick,

THUNDER BAY -- Spending the most money does not always guarantee political success.
While Green Party leader Elizabeth May vastly outspent other party leaders to secure her Saanich-Gulf Islands riding and her spot in the House of Commons, a similar tactic did not work in Thunder Bay-Superior North for Green Party Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer.

Hyer, who left the NDP mid-term to first sit as an independent and then joined the Greens, outspent all of his rivals in the 2015 federal election, only to finish fourth behind Liberal Patty Hajdu, New Democrat Andrew Foulds and Conservative Richard Harvey.

Hyer spent a total of $124,452 in attempt to win back the seat he first captured under the NDP banner in 2008.

He collected $16,969 from 60 contributors and his total was boosted by a $5,333 transfer from the party itself and an additional $121,913 transferred from the local riding association.

His campaign spent $75,046 on advertising, nearly $20,000 more than his nearest rival, but did only spend slightly more than 50 per cent of his allowable expense limit.

Hajdu, the eventual runaway winner of the race, spent the third most money in the riding during the protracted campaign, one of the longest in Canadian federal election history.

Hajdu’s donations totalled $24,134 from 76 contributors. She also got $31,912 from the Liberal party and $54,278 more from the local riding association. Hajdu, the minister for the status of women, spent $90,354 during the campaign, just 36.35 per cent of her allowable expenses.

The NDP’s Andrew Foulds, making his first bid at a federal seat, spent $119,946 on his campaign, his money coming from $27,509 brought in from 199 contributors, $44,934 given by the NDP itself and $62,279 coming from the riding association.

Foulds would go on to finish second, nearly 10,000 votes behind Hajdu.

Conservative Richard Harvey spent the least of the four major-party candidates in his second unsuccessful attempt to win the seat. Harvey, who finished a distant third, took in the most donations at $28,232, collecting contributions from 75 donors.

The party added another $37,280 to his coffers, with the riding association chipping in $30,000 more.

He spent just $59,457 on his campaign.

Independent Robert Skaf took in just $8,255 in political contributions and spent a mere $6,944 on his fifth-place campaign – or about $25.71 per vote.

In Kenora, it was more of the same.

The Conservatives, desperate to help Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford retain his seat, and NDP heavily outspent their Liberal rival, only to be swept away by the red tide that vaulted the Liberals back into power after a nine-year absence.

Rickford took in just $4,068 from one contributor, but received a whopping $175,813 from the local riding association and an additional cash inflow of more than $44,000. He then went on to spend $163,114, nearly double the amount spent by Nault’s winning bid.

Rickford also spent the most on advertising, at $60,932, ultimately gobbling up 71.8 per cent of his campaign spending limit. 

Former provincial NDP leader Howard Hampton was the second-highest spender in Kenora, with $149,833 in official election costs. Hampton took in $48,637 from 227 donors, got $106,497 from the party and $6,850 from the riding association. He spent $55,661 on advertising, forking out nearly 66 per cent of his campaign spending limit.

Nault, on the other hand, made a triumphant return to Ottawa last October, but spent just $84,343 to get there.

Nault brought in $30,165 from 87 contributors, got $13,625 from the federal Liberals and $48,835 from the local riding association. He spent $49,042 on advertising, which includes promotional material like signs and pamphlets as well as traditional media advertising.

The Green Party’s Ember McKillop spent just $552 and got just $400 from party coffers.

The figures, provided by Elections Canada, were incomplete for Thunder Bay-Rainy River. Only NDP incumbent John Rafferty’s numbers were available. Rafferty, who lost his re-election bid to Liberal Don Rusnak, spent $100,405 on his campaign.

He was given $32,338 from the NDP and $47,876 from the riding association, collecting $23,110 from 80 donors.

Federal election expenses, Thunder Bay-Superior North (2015)
  Andrew Foulds (NDP) Patty Hajdu (Lib.) Richard Harvey (Con.) Bruce Hyer (Green) Robert Skaf (Ind.)
Total contributions $27,509 $24,134 $28,232 $16,969 $8,255
Total contributors 199 76 75 60 12
Transfers from party $44,934 $31,912 $37,280 $5,333 $0
Total transfers from riding association $62,279 $54,278 $30,000 $121,913 $0
Total transfers $107,213 $86,191 $67,280 $127,246 $0
Advertising $54,861 $55,970 $33,245 $75,046 $6,585
Election expenses $119,946 $90,354 $59,457 $124,452 $6,944
Percentage of limit 48.26% 36.35% 23.92% 50.07% 2.79%

Federal election expenses, Kenora (2015)
  Howard Hampton (NDP) Bob Nault (Lib.) Greg Rickford (Con.) Ember McKillop (Green)
Total contributions $46,637 $30,165 $4,068 $275
Total Contributors 220 87 1 2
Transfers from party $106,497 $13,625 $0 $400
Transfers from riding association $6,850 $43,835 $175,813 $0
Total transfers $114,347 $57,461 $223,992 $475
Advertising $55,661 $49,042 $60,932 $475
Election expenses $149,833 $84,343 $163,114 $552
Percentage of limit 65.98% 37.14% 71.83% 0.24%


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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