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RM Issue #030715

Martin piles on the donations

By ALEXANDER PANETTA Fri, July 11, 2003
OTTAWA (CP) - Paul Martin cranked up his shock-and- awe fundraising assault on fellow Liberal leadership candidates Friday while cash-starved rival John Manley was forced to cut staff.

The undisputed front- runner in the race to become prime minister provided his clearest indication of of the avalanche of cash that flowed into his secret leadership war chest over the years.

Martin listed 24 contributors who pumped $1 million into that private fund, the full contents of which will only be known later this year.

The former finance minister also announced he raised $1.1 million more in the last two months, bringing his declared total to an eye- popping $6 million - and perhaps much more.

His declared sum alone is three times more than the total amount raised by Manley, the current finance minister and his closest fundraising rival.

The relentless inflow of cash reflects Martin's seeming invincibility. It also provides him with the kind of unlimited access to expensive polling, advisers and ground-level organizers that the other two candidates cannot hope to match.

Contributions have been pouring into Martin's war chest for years - including $100,000 from frozen-food kingpin Wallace McCain, $100,000 from Westcoast Energy of Vancouver, and $25,000 from Bell Canada Enterprises.

Donations from those conglomerates were among the 24 secret contributions declassified Friday. Martin had disclosed only four grants to that secret fund before Friday.

"We're obviously very excited about the support for Paul and we appreciate it," said Martin spokesman Scott Reid.

Spending limits for the leadership campaign have been set at $4 million, minus travel expenses and other costs.

Any money left over after the November leadership convention will be turned over to the Liberal party - which is saddled with a $1.3-million debt.

While Martin is awash in cash, the campaign of his successor as finance minister is withering with money thirst.

John Manley's leadership staff admitted Friday they were forced to make cutbacks to help fund the next stage of the campaign.

Spokeswoman Susan Smith would not say how many staffers were let go, but she acknowledged that contracts for several organizers were not renewed when they expired recently.

The money saved from staff cuts will help offset the travel costs Manley faces as he criss-crosses the country this summer in an effort to convince Liberals to support him.

Smith even poked fun at Martin's seemingly limitless pile of cash, suggesting his war chest comes from years of behind-the-scenes scheming.

"We haven't been fundraising for 156 months like Paul Martin," Smith said, referring to the 13-year period since Martin lost his leadership bid to Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

"We've been fundraising for four."

Manley's campaign has raised $2.2 million - including $700,000 in the last two months.

Unlike Martin, that disclosed sum includes all the money squirreled away in Manley's war chest.

Martin and Sheila Copps, the other candidate, have said they will wait until this fall's deadline to reveal all contributions to their blind trust funds.



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