Meet The People's Party of Canada's Ultra-Wealthy Backers

Election filings show the right-wing party's financial backers include one senator, a number of CEOs, and a prominent member of one of Canada's richest families.
MT
Toronto, CA
October 20, 2020, 3:50pm
People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday August 24, 2020
People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday August 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The People’s Party of Canada’s elections filings reveal the hard-right, “anti-establishment” party attracted financial support from many wealthy members of Canada’s establishment—including CEOs, corporate directors, and at least one billionaire.

People’s Party Leader and former Conservative cabinet minister Maxime Bernier is currently running to represent Toronto’s York-Centre riding in an Oct. 26 by-election. Bernier has admitted it will be “difficult” for him to win.

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In late summer, the party reported $1,918,757 in donations and contributions for 2019. But Elections Canada filings show a significant chunk of that came from 240 large donors who each contributed between $1,000 and $1,600, the maximum allowable. That accounted for between $240,000 and $384,000.

The party received just 1 percent of the national vote in the 2019 federal election without electing a single member, and was repeatedly dogged for associations with far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists, and other fringe characters. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network found further that a number of far-right activists connected to known hate groups were among the PPC’s donors. Yet, the party still received donations from many prominent Canadians.

Among the People Party’s large contributors are Senator Lynne Beyak—and a host of corporate directors and CEOs.

Here are a few other highlights from the PPC’s donor pool:

James D. Irving

On February 13, 2019, James Irving at a Saint John, New Brunswick, postal code donated $1,600 to the People’s Party of Canada.

That postal code matches the mailing address of J. D. Irving, Limited—linked to years of political donations by both James D. and James K. Irving.

Asked about this, a spokesperson for the company confirmed “there are two James Irvings. James D. Irving would have made a contribution.”

The Irvings are famously one of Canada's richest families, with an estimated net worth of about $7 billion.

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Asked about the use of the company’s mailing address, the spokesperson replied it’s a case where Irving “issues a personal cheque—and for their convenience has their business address on it.”

“I don’t think that’s out of compliance,” the spokesperson said.

Andre Brosseau

Andre Brosseau at a Montreal postal code donated $1,600 to the party in January 2019. That postal code matches the registered address of Andre Brosseau, a board member at the nonprofit “start-up ecosystem,” The OSMO Foundation.

The Osmo website notes that same Brosseau is a founding partner at Avenue Capital Markets and a current member of the board of directors of Quebecor, one of Canada’s largest media companies. He’s joined on the Quebecor board by former prime minister Brian Mulroney, Groupe Lelys Inc. president Érik Péladeau, and former Hydro-Quebec CFO Lise Croteau.

Neither he nor any of the companies listed above responded to requests for comment.

Paul and Valerie Kirkconnell

On March 31, 2019, Paul and Valerie Kirkconnell each donated $1,600 to the party—a total of $3,200, from a postal code in a well-off north Toronto neighbourhood. Federal government documents show Paul Kirkconnell registered his company trademark, Sherpa International, at the same address back in 2017.

Paul Kirkconnell was previously president of Aventis Capital and executive vice president of Venture Capital for the Business Development Bank of Canada.

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Asked about the address and the registration, Paul Kirkconnell confirmed, “That was mine.”

Asked about the donations, he hung up.

Alan Hibben

According to the disclosure, Alan Hibben at a Toronto postal code donated $1,600 to the party on January 22, 2019.

That same postal code matches that of Alan Hibben, the chair of HudBay Minerals—listed in the company’s federal corporate filings.

Hibben’s website says he previously served as managing director of RBC Capital Market’s merging and acquisition group and as CEO of RBC Capital Partners. Hibben also advised the Ontario Liberal government during its move to partially privatize Hydro One earlier this decade.

Hibben is also listed as an independent director of Home Capital Group. In 2017, Bloomberg reported Hibben was among the top candidates Berkshire Hathaway Inc. considered to take over as Home Capital CEO during its restructuring.

Asked about the donations, Hibben said, “I financially support a number of political parties and leadership candidates. That support does not always translate into my voting record or future intentions.”

Tony Arrell

According to the PPC disclosure, Tony Arrell donated $1,000 to the party in March 2019 from a midtown Toronto postal code. An Anthony Arrell at that same postal code was a former University of Guelph board member—and a university document identified him as CEO of Burgundy Asset Management. Arrell is currently listed as the “chairman and founder” of the global investment company on its website.

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According to Securities and Exchange Commission filings, Arrell was the sole director of Laucam Holdings Limited, which reportedly owned shares in Burgundy. Provincial corporate filings for Laucam, obtained by VICE News, also match the postal code listed in the University of Guelph document and the PPC donor list.

Burgundy’s website notes Arrell “formerly served on the board of the Toronto Stock Exchange (and) St. Michael’s Hospital and was a founding member of the Canadian Coalition of Good Governance.”

He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2016. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Eric Boyko

According to the disclosure, Eric Boyko at a Montreal postal code donated $1,500 to the party in August 2019. That postal code matches the one listed in Bloomberg’s profile of Stingray Group Inc. CEO Eric Boyko. Stingray is a Canadian publicly traded entertainment company with offices around the globe.

The Hill Times reported in late 2018 that the CEO was an early PPC supporter. Boyko himself confirmed to the Journal De Montreal he would launch a fundraising campaign for the party as well, but without ruling out also supporting the federal Liberals.

Stingray did not respond to requests for comment.

Ian Delaney

Former Sherritt CEO Ian Delaney, described by the Globe and Mail as “the Smiling Barracuda of Bay Street,” donated $1,600 to the People’s Party of Canada in September 2019.

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Reached by phone, Delaney Capital Management president Kiki Delaney confirmed the address list in the donation records belongs to herself and former Sherritt CEO Ian Delaney. But, asked about political donations, she told VICE News  “I don’t know anything about it” before declining comment on Ian Delaney’s behalf.

Neither he nor his associated companies responded to requests for comment.

Steven Salamon

Rosalind Advisors president and co-founder Steven Salamon also contributed $1,600 to the party on Feb. 25 from a postal code in Yorkville, one of Toronto’s wealthiest neighbourhoods. That same postal code is tied to the hedge fund president in several Securities and Exchange commission documents.

Salamon previously donated to right-wing political advertiser Ontario Proud as an individual, while his company also donated to the third-party advertiser during Toronto’s 2018 mayoral election.

Neither Salamon nor Rosalind responded to a request for comment.

Kirk Hansen

According to the financial disclosure, Kirk Hansen at a west Toronto suburb address donated $1,000 to the PPC.

That postal code matches the address of Kirk Hansen Consulting, a firm with a website that boasts Hansen’s business history including when he assisted “leadership for a Canadian bank” and served as an “advisor to chief outsourcing architect for (a) large financial institution.”

As reported previously, Hansen also donated $2,500 to far-right commentator Faith Goldy’s failed campaign for mayor of Toronto.

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He did not respond to requests for comment.

Reid Eric Prosser

According to the disclosure, R. Eric Prosser donated $1,600 to the party on October 2, 2019 from a Calgary postal code.

That postal code matches Reid Eric Prosser, the sole director of Prosser Charitable Foundation in Corporations Canada records.

The charity shares the postal code of Prosser Developments Limited listed in Alberta government documents obtained by VICE News.

Prosser’s LinkedIn reads the company “is a Private Equity Real Estate Investment company that invests in Calgary residential properties with over 16 million in assets in 70 + units.”

Neither responded to requests for comment.

The PPC did not respond to requests for comment from VICE News about any of their donors.