The leaders of the Liberal and Green parties in New Brunswick have pledged to ban out-of-province donations to their political parties, following criticism of the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party’s fundraising trips to other provinces. 

Susan Holt, the Liberal leader, and David Coon, the Green leader, both said they would eliminate the practice if they win this year’s election. They argued that political parties should only rely on donations from New Brunswick residents, who are directly affected by their policies and decisions. 

Their statements came in response to a social media post by Steve Outhouse, the PC campaign manager, who showed Premier Blaine Higgs speaking to a crowd of people in a large room in Abbotsford, B.C. on Tuesday, January 16th. Higgs also attended an event in Calgary shortly after, where he met with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. The PC party suggested invitees make donations but did not sell tickets.

Higgs has another fundraiser scheduled for Toronto next month, a $1,000-per-ticket dinner and reception at the city’s Albany Club.

Most provinces in Canada do not allow political parties to raise money from non-residents, but New Brunswick is one of the exceptions. Outhouse defended the PC party’s fundraising strategy, saying it was legal and transparent. He also accused the Liberals and others of being hypocritical, pointing out that they had received more money from outside New Brunswick than the PCs. 

According to public records, Holt raised almost six times as much money from outside New Brunswick for her 2022 Liberal leadership campaign as Higgs did for his 2016 PC bid. Out-of-province donations of $100 or more represented 15.9 percent of Holt’s and 5.2 percent of Higgs’s. 

Holt said she had since changed her position on the issue, after hearing from many party members and New Brunswickers who wanted the practice banned. She said the practice was “uncomfortable and distasteful” and she will figure out how to outlaw it if she becomes premier. 

Coon said the practice was “only common sense” to ban, as it would ensure that political parties are accountable to the people they represent. He said he had never accepted any out-of-province donations for his party or his leadership campaign. 

The NDP and the People’s Alliance have not made any statements on the issue, but neither party has reported any out-of-province donations in recent years.

The next provincial election in New Brunswick is scheduled for September 24, 2024.

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