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Liberals bruised but not broke, party president says

Ignatieff signage outside the Sheraton Centre ballroom in Toronto on election night.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Despite their election debacle, the Liberals raised more than $4-million during the five-week campaign and will come out of it in the black, according to embattled party president Alfred Apps.

In an e-mail to The Globe, Mr. Apps, who is being blamed by some for the election rout that saw the caucus reduced to only 34 MPs, indicated that the party is in pretty good shape.

"Party will come out of election in the black, no debt once rebates paid," he wrote. "Online membership growth strong since election."

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Mr. Apps appeared at the Liberal caucus Wednesday. He has been under fire of late as the Liberals, stinging from defeat, struggle with a difficult rebuilding process and decisions about choosing an interim leader. Michael Ignatieff also lost his own seat on May 2 and resigned as leader the next day.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Mr. Apps warned Liberals "not to put the cart before the horse."

"Very gratified with the goodwill, as well as the honest and constructive dialogue with our MPs and Senators," he said of the caucus meeting. "Even the high emotions are respected, after all it was a devastating defeat and desire to fix blame is totally understandable. But we should move on."

Meanwhile, he said he and the party executive had nothing to do with the strategy behind the losing campaign. He said he delivered on his part of the job - supplying the money to fund the campaign.

As for Dr. Bennett, who was one of the few Grit MPs re-elected, Mr. Apps wrote on Facebook, under the headline "Carolyn Bennett is not my Enemy. She's the best":

"People have asked if I am angry at Carolyn Bennett for demanding I resign. I am not. I like and admire Carolyn. She is a great MP. I understand her anger but I simply think she misunderstands my role."

He says that the "National President and the National Board have nothing to do with the election campaign. The Leader picks the campaign committee and they run everything working with OLO staff. Party staff are turned over to the campaign for the writ period."

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Mr. Apps said he did not choose the campaign committee, hire the staff or "have input in strategy or anything like that."

"The National Board's priority was simply to make sure the Party had the infrastructure and money for the campaign and that part all worked well. I think we ran a great campaign technically in spite of the devastating result at the polls and we came out of it without saddling the Party with debt," he argued.

Now, he said, it's the job of the president to pick up the pieces to rebuild.

In a separate Facebook post, Mr. Apps talks about caucus on Wednesday, conscious of not breaching cabinet confidentiality.

"Everyone is focused on making sure that grassroots Liberals have their say and are heard on all the key questions," he wrote. "National Board has been consulting with provincial officers over the past week and this coming week we turn to riding presidents and defeated candidates for input on everything. The objective here is good and inclusive decision making not fast decision making."

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About the Author
Ontario politics reporter

Jane Taber is a reporter at Queen’s Park. After spending three years reporting from the Atlantic, she has returned to Ontario and back to writing about her passion, politics. She spent 25 years covering Parliament Hill for the Ottawa Citizen, the National Post and the Globe and Mail. More

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