Ontario's Liberals running taxpayer-subsidized leadership race

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Ontario's Liberals running taxpayer-subsidized leadership race
All four candidates are drawing a government paycheque while seeking the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party.


Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Published Oct 05, 2023 • Last updated 2 days ago • 3 minute read

It should be clear to everyone that the biggest donor in the Ontario Liberal leadership race is the taxpayer.


The minivan party, unable to gain official party status two elections in a row, has four remaining candidates and all of them are drawing a paycheque from taxpayers while running their campaign.


Bonnie Crombie has continued to draw on her combined $202,000 per year salary as both mayor of Mississauga and a member of Peel Region council. MPs Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Yasir Naqvi are each drawing on their salaries from the House of Commons, which currently pays out at $194,600 per year.

By comparison, Ted Hsu, the only sitting member of the Ontario Liberal Party still in the race, is the poor man out drawing on his MP salary of $116,500. Unlike the other three, Hsu is actually elected to deal with Ontario political issues, so his dipping into the provincial coffers during this campaign seems a bit more legit.


The same can’t be said for the other three.


Erskine-Smith and Naqvi have spent about 40% of this year running for the Ontario Liberal leadership while taking a paycheque from federal taxpayers. That means taxpayers have contributed about $78,000 to each of their campaigns, but it will be more than that by the end.

Crombie entered the race later, at least officially, and will take an unpaid leave of absence starting this Saturday. Given her official start date with Elections Ontario of June 13, Crombie has spent 32% of this year campaigning for the provincial leadership, meaning the taxpayers for Mississauga and Peel Region have contributed about $65,000 to her provincial campaign.

Yes, each of them will say that they have continued to do their day jobs while also campaigning on evenings, weekends and in their “spare” time.




On Wednesday, Crombie was in Kitchener; on Tuesday, in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighborhood; on Monday, in Caledonia; on Sunday, in Stratford; and over the last week she’s made multiple trips to other parts of Toronto plus Guelph, St. Catharines and Ottawa.

When do you find time to be the mayor of the third largest city in the province when you are everywhere but Mississauga?

“Mayor Crombie has a great deal of experience balancing a busy schedule and important priorities. Rest assured that she’s been able to do that successfully, even if it means working every weekend and evening to defeat Doug Ford,” a spokesperson for Crombie said in response to questions from the Sun.


That’s about as believable as the idea that Erskine-Smith and Naqvi are fully focused on serving their ridings while also campaigning. All four candidates, Hsu included, have been campaigning using what amounts to a taxpayer-funded subsidy of their campaigns and that is fundamentally wrong.


The life of a successful politician means always being on, always being available and being able to juggle multiple files at once. So, there is an argument to be made that these candidates could campaign and hold down their day jobs at the same time.

That’s becoming increasingly difficult to believe for any of them, especially Crombie who should have taken her leave of absence much earlier. The other candidates should have done the same.

You can’t be campaigning in Cochrane or Windsor while faithfully representing Mississauga, Kingston, Ottawa-Centre or Beaches-East York.

The Ontario Liberal Party might be broke but that doesn’t mean they should be dipping into your pocket and mine to pay for their leadership race.

blilley@postmedia.com