Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, whose party attacked the Liberal government for months for holding cash-for-access fundraisers, says he won't post details of his own private fundraising events.
Mr. Scheer held at least one private fundraiser with real estate and business executives in the Toronto area this spring, around the time he was campaigning for party leadership.
Elections Canada donation records suggest he may have held others but the Conservative Party has been unwilling to confirm these events.
Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann initially denied that Mr. Scheer held a private fundraiser with real estate executives. He later confirmed that Mr. Scheer held a fundraiser on May 17 in Toronto after The Globe presented him with confirmation from one of the attendees. Mr. Scheer won the party leadership on May 27.
Mr. Scheer said this week he should not be bound by the same ethical standards he demanded of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the Liberal cash-for-access scandal, because the Conservatives are not in government.
"The Prime Minister of Canada is a public office holder and … he and his cabinet have held a number of receptions that are directly linked with stakeholders and the portfolios that they may have views on the file," said Mr. Scheer.
"Everything that the Conservative Party of Canada, under my leadership, and my own leadership campaign, everything we did during that, will follow Elections Canada's rules."
The Liberals came under fire in late 2016 after it was revealed Mr. Trudeau and his senior ministers were holding private fundraisers with wealthy donors away from public view. Mr. Trudeau's own Open and Accountable Government guidelines state that "there should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access" in exchange for political donations.
"The Prime Minister has set a different standard for himself. He has raised the bar in his own mandate letters to his ministers," Mr. Scheer said. He said he has held a variety of fundraising events and the average donations to his campaign and the party were "very modest."
"I'll continue to follow every single law that Elections Canada has on these types of issues," Mr. Scheer said.
This spring, the Liberal Party ended the secrecy surrounding its fundraisers featuring Mr. Trudeau and his cabinet, and the government has introduced legislation to do the same.
The Liberal Party launched a new website that advertises its fundraisers in advance, and releases a report about who attended them. The events, which are held in public spaces, are also open to journalists, although there have been reports of restricted media access.
The Liberal government has also introduced a bill that would make similar changes for events featuring cabinet as well as party leaders and leadership contenders, although fundraisers in private homes would still be allowed to continue as long as they are publicly advertised in advance.
Neither the Conservatives nor the NDP post such details about their fundraisers, but both parties say they continue to follow the law, and the New Democrats have promised to ban fundraisers with ministers.
Elections Canada donation records suggest Mr. Scheer held a private fundraiser with up to 17 real estate and business executives, who later each donated between $750 and $1,550 to his leadership campaign. George Hofstedter, president of Toronto real-estate developer Lindvest, confirmed that such an event occurred.
"He says he was unable to attend, but it was an event held in a home," Mr. Hofstedter's assistant, Christine Chong, told The Globe. Despite not attending, Mr. Hofstedter donated $1,550 to Mr. Scheer's campaign, which was received by the Conservative Party on May 26, according to Elections Canada records.
Another attendee, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the story, said he met with Mr. Scheer in a private setting. "I was, like, one of only a few people in the room with him," the attendee said. "This was not a big venue, where I met him."
The Liberal Party says the Conservatives are being hypocritical by failing to post details of their fundraisers.
"Mr. Scheer is organizing fundraising events in secret, barring journalists, and hiding information about who attends. This highlights the disappointing hypocrisy at play in today's Conservative Party, and demonstrates once again that Andrew Scheer's politics are no different than Stephen Harper's," Liberal Party spokesman Braeden Caley said in an e-mail.
"It's time that Andrew Scheer did the right thing and brought his secret Conservative fundraising events out into the open."
Conservative MP Scott Reid, the party's democratic institutions critic, recently told The Globe that Mr. Harper never held such fundraising events when he was prime minister, and if he wins the next election, Mr. Scheer wouldn't, either.
"He won't have fundraisers where you pay $1,500 to get to talk to the Prime Minister of Canada," Mr. Reid said.