Donors willing to pay nearly $10,000 can buy access to Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath at a "private reception" in Ottawa next month.
An invitation for the exclusive soirée at the Canadian Museum of Nature on June 15, obtained by The Globe and Mail, lists a ticket price of $1,975 for groups of three to attend a meet-and-greet at 7 p.m. For $9,975, a group of 12 can attend, four of whom will also be invited to a smaller-scale "private" gathering with Ms. Horwath before the main event.
An e-mail promoting the event suggests it is geared toward "stakeholders" – corporations, unions or other groups with an interest in government policy.
Ontario has proposed reforms to campaign finance, including a ban on corporate and union donations, but the legislation, tabled this week, would still allow events in which party fundraisers offer exclusive face-time with politicians in exchange for large donations.
The new legislation would mean that the ticket prices for some of these events would have to be reduced in keeping with the new caps on individual donations, and that organizations could no longer pay for groups of people to attend them.
Premier Kathleen Wynne promised the rule changes after The Globe exposed a series of Liberal cash-for-access events two months ago.
All three of Ontario's major political parties – despite decrying each-others' fundraising practices – have engaged in cash-for-access. And sources in all parties confided that such events have become more common in recent months as the parties increased efforts to fill their war chests for the 2018 election.
Ms. Horwath said she did not know the details of her Ottawa event next month, but said she is just raising money within the current rules.
"Look: There's no doubt that we have to continue to raise money as a party, and we're going to continue to do that following the existing rules," she said. "And once the rules change, then we'll be following the new rules."
Asked if it was hypocritical of her to bash the government for taking part in private fundraisers while doing the same herself, she said, "Absolutely not, absolutely not," but did not explain her reasoning.
At the Progressive Conservative Party's Toronto Leader's Dinner at the Metro Convention Centre on Wednesday, the top donors were offered more intimate access to party leader Patrick Brown.
A copy of the price list obtained by The Globe includes tables and sponsorship packages ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. While $15,000 tables would gain access only to the main event – a dinner with thousands of people in a large hall – more expensive packages offered extra time with Mr. Brown and Tory MPPs.
The $50,000 "Title/Presenting Sponsor" package bought two seats at the head table, plus two other full tables, admittance to a "private reception" with Mr. Brown and "the opportunity to host a Caucus Member" at the table.
Mr. Brown has regularly criticized the Liberals over cash-for-access, but has maintained it is not wrong for him to engage in it. He argues there is no conflict-of-interest for opposition MPPs selling access to themselves because they cannot dangle government contracts in exchange. "I can't give 10 cents out," he said last month.
The structure of Mr. Brown's leader's dinner is similar to that of the Liberals' Heritage Dinner, their largest fundraiser of the year, on March 30. At that event, a single ticket of $1,600 or $16,000 for a table, bought entrance to the main event; an $18,000 "Victory Table," meanwhile, included a more intimate reception with Ms. Wynne.
Earlier this week, on the day the Liberals unveiled the campaign finance legislation, party fundraiser Bobby Walman e-mailed prospective donors outlining the summer calendar of events. "Please join us on the golf course and the patio this summer. I know that you will want to add one or more of these events to your schedule," Mr. Walman wrote.
Upcoming Liberal fundraisers include three golf tournaments, with prices ranging from $600 to $800; a $1,000-per-person "Red Tent Reception" with Ms. Wynne and cabinet ministers Dipika Damerla, Bill Mauro and Reza Moridi at the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto on May 30; and a "patio party" on Aug. 3 at Malaparte in the TIFF Bell Lightbox building in Toronto for $500.