Alberta NDP out-fundraises UCP for 4th consecutive quarter

The Alberta New Democratic Party has pulled in more contributions than the governing United Conservative Party for the fourth consecutive quarter — but the gap between the two has tightened.

Funding difference between two parties much smaller than in preceding quarters

Alberta's United Conservative Party have brought in around $2.6 million in donations through 2021 so far while the New Democratic Party have garnered around $4 million. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The Alberta New Democratic Party has pulled in more contributions than the governing United Conservative Party for the fourth consecutive quarter, but the gap between the two has tightened.

The NDP raised $1.37 million in the third quarter of 2021 compared to $1.24 million by the UCP, according to figures released Monday by Elections Alberta.

The Opposition has consistently out-fundraised the governing party throughout 2021, with the first two quarters bringing in about double the governing party's effort. In total, so far this year they have raised $4 million compared to $2.6 by the UCP.

Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said the gains made by the NDP can be attributed to the governing party's pandemic management but also leadership failure from within the UCP.

"It just hasn't resonated for a variety of reasons with the same Albertans that voted for the UCP in the first place. So there are a lot of people who are experiencing, clearly, buyer's remorse."

Recent polls have indicated waning support for the UCP. An online poll from Angus Reid last month showed the NDP with a double-digit lead among decided voters.

Williams suspects the increase in UCP donations over the last quarter came in around July and would have dropped off precipitously in August and September as the fourth wave of COVID-19 began in Alberta.

Dave Prisco, director of communications for the UCP, said in an emailed statement the fundraising growth was due to "a rebounding economy under Jason Kenney and an opposition NDP cosying up to radical activists who want to landlock our oil and gas."

Around 17 per cent of UCP donations were under $250 while the smaller tracked contribution amount made up around 39 per cent of contributions for the NDP.

Williams said those proportions suggest the breadth of people committing to the party is growing.

"This is becoming as time goes on less and less a story about the weakness of the UCP or even divisions within the UCP and much more a story about the strength of Rachel Notley."

Notley encouraged

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said at an unrelated news availability Monday that she is not concerned by the UCP boost. 

"We're encouraged and we're just going to keep on doing what we do," Notley said.

NDP provincial secretary Brandon Stevens said he believes Albertans have grown frustrated with the UCP stewardship of the province and are viewing the party as an alternative. He attributed the UCP funding bump to the party campaigning on its "open for summer" proclamation and an anti-vaccine passport stance.

"They turned on the tap to try to save the ship but at a cost, I think, for everyday Albertans," Stevens said.

He said the NDP is focused on saving money for the next provincial election, scheduled for 2023.

Although far below the threshold of Alberta's two largest parties, smaller factions have seen their own success stories. In a distant third this quarter was the Pro-Life Alberta Political Association with $92,560.

With nearly $217,000 in donations in the first three quarters, the anti-abortion group has out-fundraised the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta, the Alberta Party and the Alberta Liberals. The Pro-Life Alberta Political Association declared no donations between 2018 and 2020.