Maxime Bernier was a top Conservative fundraiser before he left the party

Éric Grenier · CBC News

But while he was a Conservative MP, most of his donations came from people living outside his riding

Before Maxime Bernier left it to start his People’s Party, he was one of the Conservative Party of Canada’s top fundraisers — but most of the money he brought into his riding association came from contributors who lived in other parts of the country.

The annual financial return for the Beauce Conservative riding association shows that it raised $136,427.79 from 947 contributors in 2018, ranking it first among the 187 Conservative riding association returns that, as of Tuesday, had been filed to and posted by Elections Canada.

That represents a significant increase over the $15,610 raised by the riding association in 2017 — the year Bernier finished a close second to Andrew Scheer in the Conservative Party’s leadership race and subsequently asked his supporters to join and donate to his “Mad Max Club” to help him pay off his campaign debts and “defend principled conservative ideas.”

It appears that call was successful.

Elections Canada only posts the identities and donation dates of contributors who gave at least $200, so the data in the Beauce riding association filing is partial — just under half of the money raised came from donors who gave less than $200.

But the partial data suggest that most of the money that came pouring into the riding association in 2018 arrived before Bernier left the Conservative Party on Aug. 23, 2018. About $56,000 was raised from donors giving at least $200 before that date, while only $17,000 was raised after Aug. 23, 2018 (and a third of that $17,000 sum came from the family of Richard Lehoux, the Conservatives’ 2019 candidate in Beauce).

Beaucerons were not Bernier’s base

Lehoux, however, appears to have raised more money locally in a few months than Bernier did for most of the year. All but one of the riding association’s donors after Aug. 23 came from within the Beauce region in southern Quebec.

Bernier, on the other hand, raised a little more than $10,000 from donors giving at least $200 who lived in the region — just 19 per cent of the $56,000 total raised. Another 10 per cent came from other parts of Quebec.

The bulk of the money Bernier raised for the Beauce riding came from elsewhere in the country — 40 per cent from donors in Western Canada and 31 per cent from donors in Ontario.

Breakdown of fundraising by the Conservative Beauce riding association among donors who gave at least $200 in 2018. (CBC) 

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