New Brunswick

Green Party broke 27-year-old N.B. fundraising record in 2018

New Brunswick's Green Party flexed its growing fundraising muscle in the province's 2018 election, pulling in more donations than the NDP and People's Alliance combined and closing some of the money gap with Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, new records show.

Green donations far outpaced those of other 3rd parties

Leader David Coon helped win three seats for the New Brunswick Green Party in the 2018 provincial election. The campaign was fuelled in part by nearly $303,000 in donations — a record for a New Brunswick third party. (Jacques Poitras/CBC)

New Brunswick's Green Party flexed its growing fundraising muscle in the province's 2018 election, pulling in more donations than the NDP and People's Alliance combined and closing some of the money gap with Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, new records show.

In a financial disclosure submitted to Elections New Brunswick last month and recently released by the agency, the Greens reported raising $302,749 from donors in 2018, a record for a New Brunswick third party.

The amount was more than double what either the People's Alliance ($124,570) or New Brunswick NDP ($103,109) were able to coax from their own supporters in 2018.

Political scientist Jamie Gillies said that could make a difference as the three compete among themselves in the next election to emerge as the main alternative to the Liberals and PCs.

"If they can take that money and have it work in over 10 ridings, well they're going to hold the balance of power," said Gillies, who teaches at St. Thomas University.

'A party cannot run without funds'

Eighteen supporters gave the Green Party the maximum $3,000 allowed by New Brunswick donation rules, including retired Moncton pathologist Sarah Colwell, who also stood as a candidate in Moncton Southwest.

"A party cannot run without funds. It certainly can't fund candidates and run a campaign without adequate funding," said Colwell about her donation.    

"It's important to vote, but if you can support them financially, that's a really important thing to do."

Former Moncton pathologist Sarah Colwell was one of 18 supporters to donate $3,000, the legal maximum, to the New Brunswick Green Party in 2018. The People's Alliance took in three of that size and the NDP one. (Submitted)

Fredericton resident Margaret Trahms-Coombs also gave the maximum $3,000, a significant increase over the $1,000 she donated in the 2014 election year.

"My familiarity with the party has been growing and ability to donate is growing," she said 

"I really believe in their philosophy. I really believe we need to move in that direction." 

Closing ground on top 2

New Brunswick Green Party fundraising is still well behind the PCs and Liberals, who raised $1.3 million and $1 million in 2018, respectively, but the Greens are closing ground.  

Amounts raised by the big two parties were both down in 2018 by a combined 20 per cent from 2014, while Green Party donations more than doubled over the same period.

Political scientist Jaimie Gillies says the Green Party's ability to raise money will be an important advantage in the competition in the next election with the NDP and People's Alliance to emerge as the main alternative to the Liberals and PCs. (CBC)

Gillies said Green supporters tend to view the party as both an environmental and political organization and a high proportion of affluent urban professionals in that group can afford to finance their convictions.   

"It's like a charitable contribution and less like a donation to a political party," he said. "So an environmentalist would happily put their money toward the Green Party because it ticks both [environmental and political] boxes.

"You have a demographic that skews middle class to upper middle class among a lot of the core supporters who are willing to contribute."  

The previous record for minor party fundraising in New Brunswick was held by the former Confederation of Regions Party, which raised $274,000 to fight the 1991 election, and the New Brunswick NDP, which brought in $272,000 in 2014.

The Green Party financial return is the last one to be submitted to Elections New Brunswick from 2018 and arrived six and a half months late.

Political parties were required to file returns by May 31, 2019, but only the PCs met that deadline.

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