Independent candidates Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould have shut down donations to their federal election campaigns, saying their financial goals have been exceeded and they don’t need any more money.
The former Liberal ministers, who resigned from cabinet and were kicked out of Justin Trudeau’s caucus over the SNC-Lavalin affair, said they have been flooded with contributions since the election was called on Sept. 11. Ms. Philpott, a former health minister and president of the treasury board, is running in Markham-Stouffville, northeast of Toronto, and Ms. Wilson-Raybould, who was justice minister and attorney-general, in Vancouver-Granville.
“People have wanted to support our campaign from across the country," Ms. Philpott said. "I’ve never seen anything like it. … People keep walking in the door, saying, ‘Can I give you money, can I take a sign, what help do you need?’ ”
Still, she said she is in a competitive race with Conservative candidate Theodore Antony, who worked in the financial-planning industry, and Liberal Helena Jaczek, a former Ontario health minister. Ms. Philpott won with 49 per cent of the vote in 2015, while the Conservatives got 43 per cent.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said donations to her campaign, accompanied by cards and messages, “have been overwhelming.” She resigned from cabinet earlier this year after The Globe and Mail reported that Mr. Trudeau and top officials put pressure on her when she was attorney-general to abandon the bribery and fraud prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.
“People are very interested in our campaign, certainly me as a candidate, but I think, broader than that, about the idea … about doing politics differently, and some of the messages I’ve received have been thanking me for what I did," she said. In 2015, Ms. Wilson-Raybould won the riding for the Liberals with 44 per cent of the vote compared with about 26 per cent each for the NDP and Conservatives.
Independent candidates can spend the same amount of money as those running for political parties, although it’s viewed as more difficult to raise funds without party machinery. In Ms. Philpott’s case, the preliminary spending limit is almost $119,000, while it is more than $108,000 for Ms. Wilson-Raybould (the limits are determined by the number of eligible voters in each riding), although some types of expenses are not subject to limits, according to Elections Canada. They can raise as much money as they want, but any excess funds independents get must be transferred to Elections Canada, and can be repaid if they run again. Donations limits in Canada are $1,600 for party candidates, although people can give $1,600 to each independent candidate.
Ms. Philpott said her campaign has raised “well beyond” her spending limit, while Ms. Wilson-Raybould said her maximum target of $200,000 has been eclipsed. They posted messages on their websites telling supporters about other ways to help their campaigns.
Ms. Philpott and Ms. Wilson-Raybould both said they have heard concerns from voters about the revelations of past incidents of Mr. Trudeau in brownface and blackface.
“It’s brought up from the point of view of people asking what this says about the character of the leader,” Ms. Philpott said. “I think people wonder why didn’t we know about this a long time ago.”
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said people in her riding are interested in substantial policy issues: climate change, affordability, housing, pharmacare and electoral reform.
“People are becoming … even more disillusioned with politics and the adversarial nature of it," she said.
“The nature of the political discussion has caused a lot of anxiety and frustration. The revelations that came to light about [Mr. Trudeau’s] actions do not help that reality.”