TRURO - Central and northern Nova Scotians put their money where their mouths were last fall.
The community supported Bill Casey at the ballot box in the October federal election and now figures released by Elections Canada show they also backed the Independent candidate financially.
Casey raised $97,895 from 452 contributors, more than double his previous high during the past three elections. Liberal Tracy Parsons raised $19,560 from 90 contributors and the NDP's Karen Olsson garnered $6,810 from 44 people.
Figures for Conservative Joel Bernard and Independent Rick Simpson have not yet been posted on Elections Canada's website.
"It was interesting the way it unfolded because we got contributions from a lot of different places. We even had to send some back from the United States," Casey told the Truro Daily News on Friday. Elections Canada does not allow people outside the country to contribute to candidates' campaigns.
Casey won the election by receiving more than 25,500 votes. Olsson, the runner-up, had about 4,680.
"I think the whole exercise was an excellent exercise in democracy, because it showed Canadians will participate in the democratic process if the politicians reflect the concerns of the constituents," Casey said.
Parsons said Casey's popularity was evident during the campaign.
"I think if Bill would have raised $500, we probably still would have had the same result," she said.
It is suspected to be the largest amount Casey has raised for a campaign. Records show he raised $43,024.95 in 2006, $37,125 in 2004 and $40,818.97 in 2000.
He raised almost five times what Prime Minister Stephen Harper raised for his campaign in Calgary South. Casey also surpassed what Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in Central Nova.
The 2008 election was the first time Casey ran as an Independent after being expelled from the Conservative caucus for voting against the party's budget because it altered Nova Scotia's cherished offshore accord.
"The contributions and the support weren't all about me," Casey said. "I think people supported the democratic principle that a member of Parliament should be able to speak up for their constituents in an important issue like this."
Casey did receive nine contributions of the maximum $1,100 and 15 of $1,000, but the veteran MP said a neat component was a lot of the funds were of smaller donations. Of the 452 contributions 329 were for $200 or less.
"People were bringing in contributions in $10, $20, because they wanted to be part of it," Casey said.
Casey was able to raise the fund despite being at a disadvantage. Independent candidates can not to accept contributions and issue tax receipts until after the election campaign starts.
The money was used for signs, advertising, telephones, office space and more.