The following is Senator Irving Gerstein’s speech he delivered to the delegates at the Conservative policy convention Nov. 2 in Calgary. It has been edited for length and . CALGARY, ALTA.—It is a great pleasure to address you today about the financial affairs of the Conservative Fund Canada. As some of you know, I have been involved in the financial side of our party as a volunteer for over 45 years, having started as a fundraiser in the 1965 federal election under the leadership of the Right Honourable John George Diefenbaker. And over the years, on more than one occasion, I have been referred to by some members of the media and opposition with what might be considered as less than flattering words, I have been called “a bagman.” Well, as you have heard me say before, I do not only admit to being a bagman, I have always proclaimed it, because raising money for our party, or any party for that matter, is both honourable and necessary. All political parties require money to operate. Now, the financial side of a political party is very unique and you don’t have to take a poll or put your finger in the wind to know where you stand; you just have to look at the balance sheet and income statement. And so, having done that, I am pleased to report to you today that our party continues to be in good financial shape. And I can say this because we are currently paying our bills, we are debt-free, and the party has cash on hand. Fellow Conservatives, I want to reaffirm a commitment I made to you several years ago, on behalf of the directors of the fund, all being volunteers, I say to you that as long as the Conservative Fund is in control of the financial affairs of the party, we will see that the fund fulfills its obligation to operate in a prudent and fiscally responsible manner. And in that regard, let me clarify two issues: First, I made it absolutely clear to Nigel Wright that the Conservative Fund of Canada would not pay for Sen. Duffy’s disputed expenses and it never did; and second, at the request of Nigel Wright, the fund did agree to pay legal fees limited to a maximum of $12,000 plus HST, because at the time, Sen. Duffy was a member of the Conservative caucus, and as you know, the fund sometimes assists caucus members with the legal expenses as do other parties. With that said, let me put the fund’s track record of fiscal management into context. Since our party was founded in December 2003, nearly 10 years ago, we have paid off $8-million of initial debt, we have funded four election campaigns, we have paid the day-to-day operating expenses of the party, we have paid for a number of pre-writ advertising campaigns, we have paid over $11.2-million from the Conservative Fund to ridings under the revenue sharing program, and we have invested heavily in technological development. And, while I am on the subject of technology (and) investing, let me tell you that over the past five years, we have invested $7.1-million, fully paid for, in voter-management software, constituency support, fund-raising, and C-vote programs. Now, like any investment, some met our expectations and some did not. One program for the ridings, namely C-vote, clearly did not. We heard you and that is why we have re-introduced CIMS into the field, while C-vote will continue to operate and provide advance voter tracking and targeting, including all of the above. The total expenditures of the party over the last 10 years are in excess of $220-million, yet today, I again repeat, the Conservative Party has no debt and the Conservative Party has over $14-million in the bank. Now my friends, I want to explain to you the significance of that $14-million. As you know, our Conservative government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has taken decisive action to reform the financing of political parties. You also know that a previous Liberal government had established a per-vote subsidy even for parties that make no effort to raise funds on their own and which in 2011 cost Canadian taxpayers $27-million. Conservatives have always opposed the per-vote subsidy, primarily on the grounds that Canadians should not be compelled to give their hard-earned money to parties they do not support and as a government we promised to eliminate it. In 2011, our government kept that promise and passed legislation to phase out this subsidy over three years commencing in 2012, even though our party’s revenue was to be impacted more than any other party. And with that anticipated drop in revenue, it was also apparent to us that we had to reduce expenses immediately to ensure we would be in the best possible financial position for the next federal election. As a result, commencing January 2012, we committed to operating the party on an annual, break-even basis using fundraising and membership revenue only. The per-vote subsidy would be segregated solely for specific items and capital projects, not operations. My friends, that is why the party operating with a balanced budget has $14-million in the bank today. That $14-million reflects 95 per cent of the total per-votes subsidy received to date from January 2012, and I might add that is after transferring $2.8-million to ridings through the revenue-sharing program during the same period. Now, you might ask, how have we accomplished all this? While not withstanding what I said at the outset of my comments, the day of the bagman is really over in federal politics. Today, the Conservative Fund is run as a business, a business that can be characterized by extreme focus, attention to detail, strict adherence to the execution of fundraising programs, while at the same time being extremely efficient. The results speak for themselves. As you are aware, Canada’s political parties report fundraising results quarterly to Elections Canada. These reports show that in 2012, the Conservative Party raised $17.2-million compared to the Liberals’ $8.3-million and the NDP’s 7.6-million. That $17.2-million being greater than the total of the all the opposition parties put together and I am pleased to report to you today that our results this year are even stronger. They are stronger than last year; one of our best non-election years ever. For the nine months just ended, from Sept. 30, we raised $12.8-million, a $610,000 increase over last year compared to the Liberals’ $6.8-million and the NDP’s $4.5-million; once again, more than the total of the opposition parties combined. I might also add that October is continuing to look very good. Fellow Conservatives, to have the distinct privilege of reporting these results, I want you to know that there is never a day that goes by that I don’t reflect on the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who give their hard-earned money to our party and to each of them, and to each of you here today, I say thank you. The key to the success of our fundraising programs is our database and our ability to prospect new donors to remain at the cutting edge of political fundraising techniques in North America and to effectively use our database for both fundraising and political purposes. We must continually increase our ability to reach out to Canadians to identify those who share our values, and mobilize them. This has been the key to our success in our last three election victories and this will be the key to our success as we build towards another majority in 2015. And that is why we must continue to, week in and week out to aggressively raise funds through direct mail, telephone, social media and individual solicitations. And that what separates us from our political opponents. They don’t understand that our successes are the results of years and years of hard work and investment in the development of an integrated giving program that uses sophisticated leading-edge techniques all in an effort to move our pool of identified supporters up the support pyramid; from supporters, to members, to donors, and that is why over 70 per cent of our donors today were not donors to either legacy party at the time our party was founded nearly 10 years ago. However, as you’ve heard me say before, our work is not done, we must understand that our work will never be done. We must continue to work harder than our adversaries if we want to stay ahead of them, for complacency is our greatest enemy. Just because we now form a majority government does not mean that we can stop the hard work that got us here and just because the prospect of a sudden election is no longer imminent does not mean we can rest on our laurels. You see, to raise money successfully a political party must appeal to Canadians of ordinary means or as our leader the right honourable Stephen Harper says Canadians who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules. The Conservative Party’s fundraising success is built not on the depth of our donors pockets but on the breadth of our donor base and that is what the other parties do not understand why they are lagging behind. The size of each party’s coffers is always a reflection of which party has the best ideas for our country. In other words, given a truly level playing field, the size of each party’s war chest is a direct function of the quality of its message. If there is one thing I have learned about fundraising it’s the timeless truth message creates momentum creates money. It’s never the other way around. That being the case, at any given time one party may attract more donations from more Canadians than any other party. Today, to the chagrin of our critics, that party is the Conservative Party of Canada. And the reason we attract more donations than other parties is because we are confident in the strength of our message and we have great trust in our leader the Right Honourable Stephen Harper to deliver that message, a message translated into action by a strong, stable, majority Conservative government delivering jobs, growth and long-term prosperity to Canadians. Indeed, our message is based on the many accomplishments of our government to date, we have made Canada the picture of economic stability in the face of global insecurity, we have established the best job creation record in all G8 countries, we remain on track to return to balanced budgets by 2015, we have lowered taxes, and can be counted on to keep them low, we continue to put the rights of victims before those of criminals, and we present Canada as a generous nation but one that will not be taken advantage of by bogus asylum seekers and human smugglers who break the law. Whether it be supporting our brave men and women in uniform, promoting Canada’s northern sovereignty, scrapping the long-gun registry, ending the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, or announcing a free trade deal with the European Union which will create 80,000 new jobs and grow Canada’s economy by $12-billion a year, it is clear that the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes promises and keeps its promises. In the last Parliament, the Liberals more than once attempted to introduce a bill that would severely restrict the ability of political parties to spend their own money to promote themselves between elections. This would lead to a substantial reduction in the activities of parties and would greatly benefit our opponents. It is a fact that money facilitates political discourse and it is also a fact that paid political advertising is the only way for parties to communicate directly with citizens en masse without going through the filter of the mainstream media. That being said, the people of Canada are a discerning, skeptical audience. No party will ever increase its vote count by spending massive amounts of monies to advertise a bad policy and no amount of money spent on advertising can win an election unless voters are receptive to the message being advertised. Freedom of political expression always benefits democracy but does not always benefit the party expressing itself, therefore, one can only conclude that what our opponents are really afraid of is not the impact of Conservative money; no my friends. What has our opponents so rightly worried is the impact of the Conservative message. And as long as the rules for fundraising are fair and equitable, as long as the playing field is level, and in the absence of the per-vote subsidy, the playing field is now truly level, then surely it is fair for each party to spend the money it raises to promote its ideas, its policies, and its agenda. The fundraising techniques employed by our party may be employed by any party, as our fundraising success is not based on any proprietary formula. There is no magic potion, there is no secret sauce. It’s just plain old-fashioned hard work.