Newmarket-Aurora MPP, Dawn Gallagher Murphy, spent $11,160 on her taxpayer funded “free” BBQ on 16 October 2022 – a staggering 24% of her annual budget for “office operations”.  

On Sunday, when I quizzed Dawn at this year’s “free” BBQ, she told me the cost would come out of her global budget. She believes it is money well spent.

She says it is an absolutely appropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

How the system works

Dawn is allocated a pot of taxpayer money for the financial year which runs from 1 April – 31 March. In her first year as an MPP she spent $235,496 on her global office support and communications budget. Dawn, like all MPPs, decides how the money is spent across the global budget’s four constituent categories. These are: 

(1) Support Staff. The explanatory notes to the Individual Members’ Expenses tell me this includes: Salaries paid to Queen's Park and Constituency office staff, includes funding for Members' staff who were away for extended sick leaves. Dawn spent $118,743 in this category.

2) Constituency Office Rent. This includes expenses such as rent, utilities and janitorial services. Dawn spent $27,718 in this category.

(3) Office Operations. This includes expenditures for urban travel and Northern (N) Members travel, office supplies, advertising, staff travel, professional services, etc. Dawn spent $46,921 in this category.

(4) Communications. This includes postage, mail preparation and distribution, and printing, typesetting, artwork and photography for newsletters, flyers, and target mailings. Dawn spent $42,115 in this category.

This information is published annually. There is no breakdown of costs within each of the above categories. 

Some expenses published quarterly

Information on travel expenses, hotel accommodation, meals and hospitality expenses is published four times a year, each covering a three month period. The releases are posted on the OLA website on 1 September, 1 December, 1 March and 1 June. 

The cost of Dawn’s second annual free BBQ held on 22 October 2023 (which counts as hospitality) will be published on 1 March 2024. 

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Postscript… I was amused to see Blake Koehler chide a Newmarket Today reader for comments the reader posted on the BBQ story. Blake says he wants dialogue and for people to listen and learn.

Blake Koehler was Chief Financial Officer in Dawn’s 2022 Provincial election campaign. I wrote to him eight months ago asking him to explain why there was a significant discrepancy in Dawn’s Campaign Return to Elections Ontario. The return gave two different figures for the expense: "Meetings Hosted". In line 034 of the return we see $5,228.60 and in Schedule 6 we see $8,228.11. I asked Blake if he could help me understand why there was a difference of $2,999.51 between the two figures. I didn’t get a reply.