Trudeau top fundraiser among Liberal leadership candidates

Liberal leadership Justin Trudeau has garnered more money in the Liberal leadership race than all eight candidates put together making him the frontrunner by far in fundraising.
Justin Trudeau has out-fundraised his fellow candidates the Liberal leadership race. Not pictured is candidate Marc Garneau. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau has raised more money than all the other Liberal leadership candidates combined, according to one expert's analysis of Elections Canada data.

The analysis shows Trudeau had collected $673,156.53 in donations from individuals up to the end of December 2012. Running a distant second is Martha Hall Findlay with $149,77.45, followed by Marc Garneau with $122, 616.11.

The figures come from data that political parties must file quarterly with Elections Canada and that was analyzed by database expert Alice Funke. Parties must provide the information because most contributions to leadership candidates are directed through their party so that the donor can receive a tax credit of up to 75 per cent of the donation.

The data, on Elections Canada's website, lists each donation, the donor's name and who received it. Funke, who writes a blog called the Pundits' Guide to Canadian Federal Elections, published these findings for Liberal leadership donations up to the end of December:

  • Justin Trudeau: $673,156.53 (58.4%) 
  • Martha Hall Findlay: $149,877.45  (13.0%)
  • Marc Garneau: $122,616.11 (10.6%)
  • George Takach: $106,233.00  (9.2%)
  • Joyce Murray: $56,554.06  (4.9%)
  • Karen McCrimmon: $20,275.00  (1.8%)
  • Deborah Coyne: $16,355.00  (1.4%)
  • Grand Total: $1,153,535.11 (100%)

The two missing candidates are David Bertschi and Martin Cauchon, who registered after the end of December.

In a telephone interview, Funke explained that she did the same kind of analysis for the NDP leadership race last March.

"The percentage of overall fundraising was the best predictor of the first ballot result in a one-member, one-vote situation," she said.

Funke thinks that money is especially important with that system. She said that in the current Liberal leadership race, the recruiting of people in the supporter category, who can vote without joining the party or paying a fee, is probably too labour intensive.

"First of all, you have to sign up supporters, and to be on the safe side, you have to sign them right across the country because each riding is worth 100 points, and you can't risk another campaign hoovering up support in rural ridings.

"Step two, which is even more onerous, you have to make sure that all the people you signed up, and all the new names you get on March 3, [when a complete list of all signed-up supporters is made available to all  candidates] successfully complete the registration process in order to vote," Funke said.

Hall Findlay ahead of Garneau

One surprise is that former MP Martha Hall Findlay, who was defeated in the last election and who came last in the 2006 leadership race, has raised more than former astronaut Marc Garneau. 

Two other candidates — Deborah Coyne and Karen McCrimmon — raised sums that are so small there's a question of how much longer they can afford to fully campaign across the country. The total sum of money candidates can borrow, including from their own funds, is capped at $75,000, and the entry fee alone eats up that amount.

What makes Trudeau's numbers even more impressive is that before he registered for the leadership race, he had already raised $90,000, in addition to the amount he raised between registration and December 2012.