Edmonton

At $6.7M, UCP nearly doubles NDP in 2018 fundraising

The opposition United Conservative Party raised nearly $6.7 million in donations last year, almost double the amount raised by the governing New Democrats, according to records posted Wednesday by Elections Alberta.

'We think it's a good sign the unity of the free enterprise side of politics is working,' Kenney says

UCP leader Jason Kenney, who visited a Slave Lake A&W Wednesday, says a surge in fundraising for his party shows supporters are eager for change. (Michelle Bellefontaine/CBC)

The opposition United Conservative Party raised $6.7 million in donations last year, almost double the amount raised by the governing New Democrats.

Records posted Wednesday by Elections Alberta show the UCP raised $6,662,562 in the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, compared to $3,390,214 donated to the NDP during the same period.

Donations to the UCP surged in the fourth quarter of 2018, which saw $3.9 million raised, with one-third coming from from individual donations of less than $250.

Message working, Kenney says

Reached in Slave Lake on Wednesday, UCP Leader Jason Kenney said ordinary grassroots supporters are eager for change and willing to invest in their party to see it happen.

"We're not taking anything for granted," Kenney said, "but we think it's a good sign the unity of the free enterprise side of politics is working."

Despite trailing the UCP, the NDP says it's pleased with the 2018 result, and is encouraged that donors who gave in 2015 are coming back. 

"Fundraising is one stat that we look at when we're comparing ourselves to other political parties," said Roari Richardson, Alberta NDP provincial secretary.

The party also uses "response at the door," in measuring if its message is getting through to the public, Richardson added.

"It'll be exciting," Richardson said.

Far behind the two major parties, but seeing a jump in its own fundraising, the Alberta Party raised a record $594,177 in 2018.

The most the party had ever raised previously was in 2015, when it received $198,928 in donations. 

Alberta Party media relations officer Robbie Kreger-Smith said the bulk of donations came in in the last part of 2018, thanks to a new website and ability to capture donations more effectively.

The money raised shows there is a clear appetite for a centrist political party, Kreger-Smith said.

"People are unhappy with the polarity of the two main parties, and they do want a third option."

Alberta Liberals posted a year-end total of $196,464 in donations, while the upstart Freedom Conservative Party received $39,776.

 The dormant political parties that morphed into the UCP also received donations in 2018.

The Progressive Conservative party raised $2,500 while the Wildrose received $1,825.

In 2016, the NDP introduced new rules to get "big money" out of Alberta politics by capping political fundraising and spending through The Fair Elections Financing Act.

The legislation bans union and corporate donations to political parties and sets a $4,000 limit on individual donations.