Newmarket-Aurora MPP Dawn Gallagher Murphy’s winning election bid well outspent any of her competitors, campaign finance documents released last month show.
The Conservative wracked up $122,025 in campaign expenses as she garnered 44.9 per cent of the vote and 18,649 votes total, more than 5,000 votes clear of Liberal Sylvain Roy, who got 31.4 per cent.
In comparison, Roy’s campaign had $24,363 in expenses, less than 20 per cent of what Gallagher Murphy’s campaign spent. NDP’s Denis Heng, who came in third with 12.7 per cent of the vote, had his campaign spend $47,395.
Roy said his campaign had enough funds to do “what we needed to do.”
“We are pleased with the results of the fundraising,” Roy said. “We could have spent more money, but we wanted to use donor dollars efficiently.”
Candidates' campaign tabs have garnered scrutiny since their release. One Conservative winner in Timmins spent more than $23,000 on two victory events; Gallagher Murphy’s victory party was $5,803 in comparison.
The local Conservative campaign was able to spend far more on advertising, at $43,656 compared to the Liberals' $5,898 and the NDP’s $12,742. The Conservatives spent another $21,326 on brochures, compared to the Liberals' $2,743 and the NDP’s $610.
Heng said he is proud of the effort his team put forward, but the result was disappointing. He added that money spent does add to the difficulty of unseating incumbents.
“As a sports fan, I know that money does not buy championships, but it makes it easier to compete,” Heng said.
The Conservatives have historically won Newmarket-Aurora provincially and were the incumbents, with first-time candidate Gallagher Murphy taking over for Christine Elliott after the former health minister decided not to run. The Liberals did hold the seat from 2014-2018, with Chris Ballard winning that election.
NewmarketToday did not receive a reply to a request for comment to Gallagher Murphy’s constituency office before publication.
The riding had several other candidates who spent less. The Green Party’s Carolina Rodriguez had $2,187 in expenses. New Blue candidate Iwona Czarnecka had $5,915 in expenses. Ontario Moderate Party candidate and leader Yuri Duboisky, as well as Ontario Party candidate Krista McKenzie, did not have any expenses, according to filings.
Heng expressed some concern about the barrier that fundraising differences can create, “making it even more difficult for groups and voices that traditionally have not been part of political discourse to participate.”
“It is integral that these voices can meaningfully participate in public and policy discourse,” Heng said.
He added that a lack of funds applies individually and impacts which candidates run. He said the lack of races for local candidacy was unfortunate, with the Newmarket-Aurora Liberals and NDP acclaiming candidates and the Conservatives appointing one.
“All parties need to do better to ensure that income and wealth do not play an overwhelming factor in screening out quality candidates,” he said.
Despite the loss, Roy said he was proud of his campaign and the teams behind it.
“Our campaign was efficient, and laser-focused on the issued that matter to residents of Newmarket-Aurora.”