Supporters of Dianne Watts in last fall's election.

Tories raised most in South Surrey-White Rock

Financial statements filed with Elections Canada show local Conservative riding association pulled in most money

Local Conservatives were well-equipped heading into the last federal election, allowing their candidate to easily outspend rivals in the campaign, new Elections Canada data reveals.

The South Surrey-White Rock Conservative Association pulled in $197,894 in 2015 by way of contributions, loans and transfers. By contrast, the NDP – the only other local association to file its annual financial return so far – had just $8,338 in earnings that year.

Riding associations face a deadline of May 31 to file their financial papers with Canada’s elections agency – although nearly half, 45 per cent, asked for extensions this year.

In the Oct 19, 2015 election, Conservative Dianne Watts won the Semiahmoo Peninsula with 44 per cent of the vote, narrowly beating Liberal rival Judy Higginbotham, who finished with 41.5 per cent. The NDP’s Pixie Hobby finished a distant third, with 10.4 per cent of ballots cast.

Candidates faced an earlier deadline for filing their own financial statements, and none came close to Watts in election spending.

Watts claimed $163,483 in election expenses, while the Liberals – between Higginbotham and Joy Davies, who was ousted as a candidate before the election – spent $58,830. Hobby, whose campaign was financed directly by individuals, recorded $38,925 in expenses for the NDP.

The local Conservatives built their campaign war chest largely through donations from 237 individuals – whose contributions amounted to $139,324 – 34 of whom contributed the $1,500 maximum allowable under election rules.

Watts’ remaining cash came from her party.

During the campaign, Watts spent $96,733 on advertising, $23,990 on salaries and wages, $19,258 on an office, $11,834 on voter calling services and $11,668 on other costs.

Other candidates in the race had little to no campaign expenses, such as the Greens’ Larry Colero, who claimed just $1.26 in office expenses and $11.36 in other costs.

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