Progressive Conservative MPP, Dawn Gallagher Murphy, spent $408,735 in 2023-24 serving her Newmarket-Aurora constituents. 

Out of this sum, she spent $11,495 on her second taxpayer-funded BBQ at Riverwalk Commons on 22 October 2023. 

Her first "Annual BBQ" on 16 October 2022 cost $11,160. 

Late filing

I had previously relied on her expense filings for the last quarter of 2023 and calculated there had been a 19% drop in her BBQ costs between 16 October 2022 and 22 October 2023. This was serious belt-tightening! 

But the inventive Gallagher Murphy went on to file a further $2,118 BBQ related expense claim in the first quarter of this year.

We now know the second “Annual BBQ” in 2023 was more expensive than the first. Up by a modest 3%.

These BBQ costs come out of Gallagher Murphy's "Office Operations" budget.

Waste of public money

Forget the figures. Personally, I think these BBQs are a disgraceful waste of public money – designed to butter up the voters. But, astonishingly, they are within the rules set by the Legislative Assembly.

If Gallagher Murphy had the brass neck, there’s no reason why she couldn’t spend $50,000 – or more - on her third annual BBQ in October 2024.

Last week, the full list of MPP expenses for 2023-2024 was posted on the Queen’s Park website by the Speaker, Ted Arnott. They cover the fiscal year to 31 March, an entire 12-month period. For MPPs elected for the first time at the last election - such as our own Dawn Gallagher Murphy - the expenses for 2022-2023 cover a shorter period from the election on 2 June 2022 – 31 March 2023.


Gallagher Murphy is allocated a pot of taxpayer money for the fiscal year. In her first ten months as an MPP she spent $235,496 on her global budget. Like all MPPs, she 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. In this category Gallagher Murphy spent $217,154 in the full year 2023-24 compared with $118,743 in the ten-month period in 2022-23.

2) Constituency Office Rent. This includes expenses such as rent, utilities and janitorial services. Gallagher Murphy spent $47,507 in 2023-24 in this category compared with $27,718 for the 10-month period in 2022-23.

(3) Office Operations. This includes expenditures for urban travel and Northern (N) Members travel, office supplies, advertising, staff travel, professional services, etc. In this category Gallagher Murphy spent $91,678 in 2023-24 compared with $46,921 in the 10-month period in 2022-23. Her BBQ costs come out of this budget.

(4) Communications. This includes postage, mail preparation and distribution, and printing, typesetting, artwork and photography for newsletters, flyers, and target mailings. In this category Gallagher Murphy spent $52,395 in 2023-24 compared with $42,115 in the billable 10-month period in 2022-23.

No breakdown

All this information is published annually in June, just before the Legislative Assembly rises for the summer break. There is no breakdown of costs within each of the above categories. The Federal Parliament has different rules and it is possible to easily find out how much our MP (currently Tony Van Bynen) spends on, say, advertising. The Queen’s Park regime does not have this level of granularity. We don’t know what Gallagher Murphy spends on advertising – but we see her everywhere, all the time. She is impossible to escape.

Most of her advertising is shameless self-promotion: congratulating people, opening things, handing out certificates. Gently reminding us we live in a wonderful Province under the beneficent guidance of Ford@Nation. 

But, when so instructed, she can be overtly political, recycling material straight out of Head Office. (See attack ad right)

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. 

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Below: Additional expense claims for the 22 October 2023 BBQ submitted by Dawn Gallagher Murphy for the January-March 2024 reporting period