QUEBEC - Parti Quebecois Leader Pierre Karl Peladeau's team has temporarily given up on a plan to sell hand-signed hockey jerseys, at $150 apiece, in order to pay the cost of his leadership campaign.
The offer, found on Peladeau's campaign website, was removed so as not to undermine the Bloc Quebecois' fundraising campaign, according to Annick Belanger, Peladeau's communications director.
Until last week, visitors to Peladeau's website were encouraged to order their own "PKP 2015" hockey jersey, "with Pierre Karl's Peladeau's autograph, for only $150."
Belanger confirmed that the decision to sell the blue jerseys, which are identical to the ones worn by Peladeau supporters during his leadership campaign, was taken in mid-August.
The initiative was designed to replenish the coffers of Peladeau's campaign organization, which was left with a $132,000 debt when the race wrapped up in May.
As of yet, no sales have been completed, Belanger said. She said the offer will return after the Oct. 19 federal election.
Peladeau is the only one of the six Parti Quebecois leadership candidates who still must gather donations to balance his budget, which far exceeded that of his rivals.
In an interview, Belanger told The Canadian Press the offer was suspended Thursday after it became clear the volunteers for the hockey sweater sales were all mobilized by the Bloc Quebecois campaign that began over a month ago.
"The campaign has been pushed back in order to concentrate efforts on the Bloc Quebecois fundraising campaign," Belanger said.
Belanger confirmed the operation would start up again next month in order to finish up "the fundraising campaign for Mr. Peladeau's leadership race."
The new Parti Quebecois leader spent $405,000 (excluding an amount of $11,575 in unpaid claims) on his campaign, which exceeded the $284,950 he received in donations.
Last week, Quebec's chief electoral officer confirmed the initiative was within the rules since the maximum donation for a leadership race is $500, as opposed to the $100 ceiling for election campaign contributions.
Election office spokesman Denis Dion confirmed that candidates have a one-year period to pay back their debt, and they can request permission to extend the deadline to a maximum of three years.
The financial records of the candidates submitted to the chief electoral officer show that Alexandre Cloutier ran the second-most expensive campaign at $79,890, which was equivalent to the amount he took in.