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This article was published 23/6/2009 (3930 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG — The federal Liberal party is out of debt and financially ready to conduct a "fully funded (election) campaign," its national president said in Winnipeg Tuesday.
Alfred Apps said the party has raised nearly as much money in the first half of this year as it did all last year, when it took in $5.9 million.
"You can assume that we’re going to report somewhere over $5 million for the first six months (ending June 30)," Apps said in an interview following a speech to the Laurier Club of Manitoba.
He added that the past three months have been the best fund-raising quarter for the party in "many, many years."
Apps, in town for meetings with provincial Liberals, attributed the boost in fund-raising to the momentum generated by crowning a new leader in Michael Ignatieff and to "the recovery of the party generally."
He also argued that recent Conservative attack ads targeting Ignatieff have backfired and spurred Liberal supporters to open their wallets.
"People reacted very strongly to that," he said.
Meanwhile, national party membership, which dipped to 36,000 at the end of last year, is "closing in on 90,000," and the Liberals are shooting for 200,000 by the end of 2009, he said.
The Liberals hold 77 of the 308 seats in the House of Commons, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives rule with a minority of 143. The Bloc Quebecois has 48 MPs, while the NDP has 36. There is one independent and three vacancies.
Apps said the Liberals are heartened by their rejuvenation in Quebec, where they see themselves challenging the Bloc for supremacy in the next election.
Nomination meetings there — even in ridings the Liberals have not held in a decade — are attracting multiple candidates and audiences of 2,500, Apps said.
"The polls have been very strong in Quebec for us really since January. We’ve been running neck and neck with the Bloc, and the Tories have sort of fallen through the floor there," he said.
In Manitoba, where Anita Neville is the party’s sole MP, in Winnipeg South Centre, the Liberals are hoping, at a minimum, to regain St. Boniface and Winnipeg South from the Conservatives, Apps said.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.