SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- Christine Elliott has raised the most money by far in the race to become leader of the Progressive Conservatives, filing $515,000 in donations with Elections Ontario by the time nominations closed at noon Friday.
PC finance critic Vic Fedeli, a former North Bay mayor, was a distant second in fundraising at $156,650, followed by Barrie MP Patrick Brown at $105,000.
Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod has not filed any donations yet with Elections Ontario, but a spokeswoman said her campaign has raised $105,000 to date.
Officials with the campaign of London-area MPP Monte McNaughton, the last of the five to officially enter the leadership race, declined to say how much he had raised, but promised to file donations with Elections Ontario starting Sunday.
Elliott, the widow of former federal and provincial finance minister Jim Flaherty, got several $20,000 and $25,000 donations from individuals and corporations, and the single largest donation so far: $100,000 from a 24-year-old former Queen’s Park intern named Adam Moryto.
A spokesman for the Elliott campaign said Moryto and Elliott had mutual friends from his days at the legislature but no real relationship, and he offered to donate the money.
Moryto, whose grandfather founded Ram Forest Products based in Vandorf, Ont., describes himself as an actor and producer on his social media sites.
He could not be reached for comment on his $100,000 donation but his father said Friday that he was “somewhat” surprised by it.
“I didn’t realize he was that interested in politics,” Tom Moryto said in an interview.
The candidates, who had to put up a $75,000 registration fee and a refundable deposit of $25,000, can spend a maximum of $1.25 million on their campaigns, and must turn over 20 per cent of total donations over $100,000 to the PC Ontario Fund.
The PC leadership hopefuls have until Feb. 28 to sign up new members, who will be eligible to vote for the new leader in May using a preferential balloting system to select second, third and fourth choices after their preferred candidate.
Voting will be held May 3 and May 7 in ridings across the province, and the results will be announced May 9 at a convention-style event in Toronto.
It’s the preferential voting system that has so far seen the candidates reluctant to criticize each other in debates.
However, Brown — the only one without a seat in the Ontario legislature — has lashed out at his rivals for not doing enough to court ethnic votes and accused Elliott of “standing shoulder to shoulder” with former leader Tim Hudak on the 2014 election promise to cut 100,000 public sector jobs.
Elliott insisted none of the other leadership candidates was aware of the job cut plan before it was announced early in the spring election campaign, a fact disputed by officials who worked in Hudak’s office.
Hudak resigned shortly after the Conservatives’ fourth consecutive election defeat by the Liberals in June — their second loss under his leadership — with many Tories directly blaming the job cuts plan for the outcome.