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Peter MacKay says he owed $1M after Tory leadership race. He’s still paying it off

Peter MacKay says he owed $1M after Tory leadership race. He’s still paying it off
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Former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney is headlining a virtual fundraiser for Peter MacKay this month as MacKay seeks to pay down his debt from the 2020 Conservative party leadership race.

MacKay finished in second place with what he’s said is $1 million in debt, despite outpacing his three other rivals in fundraising by the time the race ended in August.

Elections Canada records show that since September, he’s managed to raise over $527,000 towards paying that off, including $1,650 from another former prime minister — Stephen Harper.

MacKay was largely waiting to gear up his efforts for a new calendar year, as many donors had maxed out on allowable contributions in 2020 due to the race.

In addition to the marquee fundraiser on May 20 with Mulroney, he’s held private events featuring Harper, former and current Tory MPs, and next week will appear alongside country music star George Canyon, who tried to win MacKay’s old riding of Central Nova for the Tories in the last election.

Of the four finalists in the leadership race, MacKay is the only one with debt.

How he arrived at such a large sum after raising around $3.1 million has yet to be revealed in detail. MacKay opened a line of credit with a bank in Nova Scotia during the campaign for upwards of $489,000, as well as personally loaning his campaign $25,000.

What he spent the money on, and who remains to be paid, will be clear once his leadership campaign financials are complete — his team had asked for an extension to the filing deadline due to COVID-19 and the filings are not complete.

Winner Erin O’Toole spent $3.69 million on his bid, with around $22,000 owing to some suppliers at the time his financials were submitted. He’s also continued to raise money, bringing in about $630,000 since September.

Any surplus left over from that must be handed over to the party, or to a riding association.

Leslyn Lewis, who placed third in the race, has raised over $8,300 since, Elections Canada records show, while Derek Sloan, who finished last has brought in just over $61,000.

Sloan found himself in trouble in the aftermath of the race when it was revealed his campaign had accepted a donation from a man tied to white nationalist causes.

He swore he’d been unaware of the contribution, but O’Toole used it to rally MPs around the idea of kicking him out of caucus, citing “a pattern of destructive behaviour.”
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