Conservatives still on top as parties report latest fundraising totals

As the clock ticks down to the fall fixed election date, the Conservative Party continues to dominate the pre-campaign fundraising circuit, according to the latest party financial reports posted to Elections Canada's website.

Tories collect more than Liberals, NDP combined in the first quarter of 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to the party faithful at a Conservative Party meeting Thursday, April 23, 2015 at a Winnipeg hotel. The Conservatives continue to outpace other federal parties in fundraising. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

As the clock ticks down to the fall fixed election date, the Conservative Party continues to dominate the pre-campaign fundraising circuit, according to the latest party financial reports posted to Elections Canada's website.

During the first three months of the year, the Tories pulled in $6.3 million — more than both their closest competitors combined — from just over 41,000 donors.

That's an increase of just over $1.7 million over last year's first-quarter returns, although down slightly from the $6.6 million the party reported for the last quarter of 2014.

The number of donors also shot up by nearly 10,000.

"These results show that Canadians are continuing to donate more to the Conservative Party because they know the tough job of being prime minister requires a strong, serious leader, and they're rejecting the high-risk, high-tax, high-debt schemes of Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair," Conservative communications director Cory Hann told CBC News.

Not surprisingly, that's not how the other parties see it.

NDP, Liberals tout results

In an email to supporters sent out before the results had even been published, the Liberals trumpeted the $3.8 million collected from 34,508 contributors as the party's "best Q1 ever" after beating last year's haul by just over $100,000.

As Liberal Party communications director Olivier Duschesneau pointed out to CBC News, that doesn't take into account the fact that last year's revenues were inflated by the party's biennial convention, which was held in February, 2014.

"If you remove the convention revenues and paying delegates, we raised close to a million [dollars] more [this year] than last Q1 … and had more than 2,000 additional donors," he noted.

It is also the party's eighth consecutive quarter with more than 30,000 donors, he added.

Even so, that represents a drop of nearly $2 million from the $5.8 million raised between October and December last year.

The Liberals did, however, manage to boost their final balance by more than $73,000 in funds that flowed back into the party coffers from nomination races, compared to just $1,000 for the Conservatives and no recorded transfers at all for either the New Democrats or the Greens.

The New Democrats also experienced a slight shortfall in overall fundraising numbers: nearly $2.3 million compared to $2.5 million for the first quarter of 2014 and $3.8 million in the final quarter of 2014.

But, as with the Liberal numbers, there's also context to take into consideration: the loss of more than $1 million in posthumous bequests, which were outlawed last year as part of the government's omnibus electoral reform bill.

"If you remove the approximately $1,010,000 in estate gifts that we got in Q1 2014 and compare our numbers — apples to apples — we raised 50 per cent more this year than last," NDP spokesman George Soule told CBC News.

"So far, since 2011, we have raised more money and increased our number of donors, quarter over same quarter, every single quarter," he observed.

Soule noted the party's unique donors also increased. "We have close to 30 per cent more donors than the same quarter last year."

Green fundraising numbers up

The Green Party, meanwhile, brought in $670,521.71 from 10,354 donors. While far behind the other major federal parties, that represents a jump of nearly $200,000 from the same period last year and an increase of nearly 30 per cent in the number of contributors.

"The fundraising success is showing the momentum that the Greens are gaining throughout the country," Green Party communications director Julian Morelli told CBC News.

Like the other opposition parties, though, it's a considerably more modest haul than the party claimed during the last quarter of 2014, when they cracked the $1 million mark for the first time.

The next batch of quarterly reports are due in July, giving the parties one more chance to show off their fundraising power before the writs drop.

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