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Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addresses his caucus during a meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Sept. 19, 2018.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Conservative Party will hold a $1,500-a-plate private fundraiser at a senator’s Toronto home next week featuring Leader Andrew Scheer, even though Conservatives frequently criticized the Liberals for holding high-priced “cash-for-access” events.

Conservative Senator Linda Frum said she expects about 80 to 100 people will attend the Tuesday evening fundraiser at her home, which is in the city’s Forest Hill neighbourhood. In an interview, she said only about half of those will pay the listed entry fee of $1,500, while the other half will be reserved for invited Conservative supporters who will pay less or even nothing as a way of attracting young people and new supporters.

“I’m not at all apologetic that we’re trying to raise money for the Conservative Party so we can win the next election. That’s an essential part of the democratic process," she said.

Details of Conservative Party fundraisers are coming to light for the first time as new federal legislation took effect this month requiring political parties to provide advance notice of their fundraising events.

The disclosures come as the Conservative Party announced Thursday that it raised more than $24-million in 2018, its second-best year ever for fundraising and best ever for a non-election year.

The party said the $24-million came from 49,310 individual donors, which works out to an average donation of $491.81. The 2018 fundraising figures are preliminary and have not yet been submitted to Elections Canada. The maximum allowable donation for 2019 is $1,600.

Under new rules that took effect Jan. 1, parties must disclose fundraising details to Elections Canada, which then posts them online. Lists of individuals in attendance will also be disclosed after the fact. The Conservative Party has also started to post the fundraising event notices on its website.

Shortly after coming to power, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers faced strong criticism from opposition parties for holding small fundraisers – often in private residences – in which top donors could mingle with the country’s senior decision-makers.

Conservative MPs frequently used the term “cash-for-access” to describe the events and argued they were not ethical.

In response, the Liberal Party changed its practices in 2017 by providing advance notice of all fundraising events and publishing lists of those in attendance. It also made the decision to allow journalists inside to cover the party’s fundraising events, which are now primarily held in conference rooms at hotels.

The Liberal Party’s new rules also suggested there would be tight restrictions on the attendance of lobbyists. However a Globe and Mail review of the party’s fundraising records found cases in which the Liberal Party violated its own rules.

Conservative Party spokesman Cory Hann said Liberal fundraisers were in breach of the Prime Minister’s rules for cabinet, called Open and Accountable Government, which state that there should be no preferential access to government, nor the appearance of preferential access, because an individual makes a financial contribution to a political party.

“The Conservative Party has followed and will continue to follow all fundraising rules that are in place,” he said in response to questions regarding next Tuesday’s fundraiser featuring Mr. Scheer. “There is no violation here."

Mr. Hann said media will not be allowed at the Toronto fundraiser but could be allowed to cover larger fundraising events in the future.

Liberal Party spokesman Braeden Caley said his party has the highest standards when it comes to fundraising and transparency.

“It’s time that Andrew Scheer did the right thing and stopped barring journalists from the Conservative Party’s behind-closed-doors fundraising events,” he said.

The first wave of disclosures on the Elections Canada website shows six Liberal events in addition to the one Conservative Party event. No other fundraising events for other political parties are listed.

None of the six Liberal events are at a private residence. Five are at hotels and one is at a Calgary bar.

With a report from Chris Hannay