O’Toole spent $1 million in party funds on election studio: sources

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole claims $1 million was well spent by party funds on the downtown Ottawa election studio.

O’Toole spoke to reporters on Thursday to say that the party must be prepared for the possibility of the COVID crisis locking down its leaders during the federal election.

“As leaders elected in a pandemic situation, we needed to be prepared for a crisis…. The studio was a way we could connect with hundreds and thousands of people. We continue to use that through our party resources during elections,” O’Toole stated.

” We had to be prepared. The military guy in my heart wanted to ensure that we were prepared for any kind of full virtual election .”

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. Global News reported that O’Toole’s party spent over $1 million to run their downtown Ottawa election station. The Conservative Fund approved the spending and briefed the party’s national council on the details.

Around the same time in early 2021 that the party was setting up the studio, O’Toole’s office also used taxpayer funds to purchase roughly $74,000 in “video communication and broadcast equipment” alone. Public records analyzed by Global News showed taxpayers footed the bill for $245,141 in communications, audio-visual and telecommunications equipment and services between October 2020 and April 2021.

That’s significantly more than the $68,998 spent on similar products and services by O’Toole’s office in the previous quarter.

Global News contacted O’Toole’s offices two weeks ago to confirm that no budget from the Office of the Leader and Opposition was used for set-up/equipment expenses at the Westin Studio, which the party used during the election .”

On Wednesday, O’Toole’s official statement reiterated that no public money was used for “partisan purposes” at Westin Studios.

“No taxpayer funds, including equipment for broadcasting and video, were used during the election or pre-election period. Josie Sabatino (O’Toole’s director for communications) stated that the equipment was only used during the pre-writ period.

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“This equipment continues to be used by the Leader of the Official Opposition and the Conservative Caucus for these purposes.”

Click to play video: 'Erin O’Toole says Liberal spending ‘fuelling inflation crisis’'

Erin O’Toole says Liberal spending ‘fuelling inflation crisis’

Erin O’Toole says Liberal spending ‘fuelling inflation crisis’

Alberta Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs – who has publicly voiced disappointment with the party’s 2021 election results – told Global News Thursday that “there should be an accounting on” the decision to spend so much on a studio.

But Randy Hoback a Saskatchewan MP, and O’Toole’s critic, stated that the $1 million was well-spent money.

” You do what it takes to reach Canadians and to communicate with them,” Hoback stated.

“If there had been a complete pandemic, everything would have been done in that studio. So yes, I believe it would have made good use of the funds .”


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. However, veteran conservative strategist Tim Powers said to Global News that the studio’s cost was likely to cause some concern in caucus, especially among those who want O’Toole’s ouster. Powers stated that there are always conservatives who will question party spending on elections outcomes more vigorously if it doesn’t produce wins.

“But I think the nature of the questioning will be more dangerous to Mr. O’Toole because these are loaded questions now being lobbed over at him, principally, I suspect, by people who don’t want to see him continue to lead the party.”

Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer faced his own questions about the use of taxpayer resources after he led the party to defeat in 2019 – questions that hastened his decision to step down.

But O’Toole’s expenditure on the election studio is not on the same level with using party funds for his children’s private schools, Powers stated .

“Mr. Scheer’s resume was questioned. The citizenship of Mr. Scheer was questioned. Powers stated that Mr. Scheer’s party spending was questioned. “O’Toole hasn’t had the same set of questions, so I think it’ll pass more easily than the Scheer troubles.” Powers added.

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. There are key differences between Scheer’s experiences and O’Toole’s. In 2019, Scheer was the target of party operatives who wanted him gone – but he had plenty of friendly MPs to defend him. There were many potential replacements for Scheer in Conservatives’ imaginations, including Pierre Poilievre and Peter MacKay. John Baird, Rona Ambrose, John Baird, John Baird, and Rona Ambrose.

In 2021, O’Toole does not appear to be facing the same sort of organized resistance that Scheer went up against. While many Conservative MPs support his leadership, there is clearly an anti-O’Toole faction in the caucus. Global News was told by

Sources that the contingent has a multi-step plan to remove O’Toole. It began with Sen. Denise Batters’ petition in an attempt to force a leadership review. After Batters’ opposition to O’Toole was made public, O’Toole expelled Batters from the national caucus.

Senior sources close to O’Toole have told Global News that there was a sense of urgency to prepare for an early election as soon as he became leader in August 2020. According to one source, those preparations included the possibility that O’Toole would not be able to travel for the campaign.

“This wasn’t a campaign thing. We used the studio for six to seven months. According to a source, the leader could not tour because we were suffering from a pandemic. The leader was unable to leave the city.

” We didn’t know if there would be an election in spring. If there were, he wouldn’t be able to go to Atlantic Canada. So we had to have a studio .”


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A senior party source said the 2021 election campaign cost less than previous election years. According to the party, the 2021 Conservative campaign tour cost $3.2 million, compared to $5.2 million in 2019 and $8.7 million in 2015.

(c) 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8401020/otoole-election-studio-spending/, GlobalNews.ca
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