Ontario PCs raised nearly $10 million in 2016, far outpacing Liberals

The Progressive Conservative party is not only well ahead of Kathleen Wynne's Liberals in the polls, it also comfortably won the fundraising race this year, just as new restrictive rules on political donations come into force in Ontario.

With changes looming to Ontario's political donation rules in 2017, parties cashed in this year

The Ontario Progressive Conservative party, led by Patrick Brown (left), raised $9.7 million in donations in 2016, some $4 million more than the Ontario Liberals. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The Progressive Conservative party is not only well ahead of Kathleen Wynne's Liberals in the polls, it also comfortably won the fundraising race this year, just as new restrictive rules on political donations come into force in Ontario. 

Patrick Brown's PCs collected $9.7 million in donations so far in 2016, according to the latest figures compiled by CBC News, using data reported by Elections Ontario.

The same figures put the Ontario Liberal Party at $5.75 million raised in 2016, with the Ontario NDP a distant third at nearly $2.7 million in contributions. 

The numbers may rise, as the parties are not required to disclose contributions to Elections Ontario until two weeks after the donation is made. The totals only include donations made to the central parties, not to their constituency associations.

Political donations reported in 2016
PartyAmount
Progressive Conservative Party$9,706,357
Ontario Liberal Party$5,753,674
Ontario NDP$2,667,742

It's a significant fundraising turnaround for the Ontario PCs, amounting to more than double what the party raised in 2015.

In 2015, the PCs raised $4.4 million, while the Liberals collected $9.2 million and the NDP $2.8 million.

Significant changes to the political donation rules come into force on Jan. 1 in Ontario. Corporations and unions will be banned from contributing to political parties. The maximum an individual can donate to a party in a non-election year will be reduced to $1,200 from the current limit of $9,975.

To compensate for the loss of corporate and union donations, the parties will receive an annual taxpayer-funded subsidy based on the number of votes they received in the 2014 election.

For 2017, that subsidy will amount to $2.71 per vote. Based on the 2014 election results, that works out to:

  • $5.1 million for the Liberals
  • $4.1 million for the PCs
  • $3.1 million for the NDP

The subsidy will drop slightly each year. For instance, in 2018 it will be $2.54 per vote.

The new year will also bring an end to Ontario's cash-for-access fundraisers, which drew outrage for ticket prices of up to $10,000 that give donors face-time with top politicians. Under the new law, MPPs, candidates and senior political staff are banned from attending fundraising events.

As of January 1, corporations and unions will be banned from contributing to all Ontario political parties. The parties will begin receiving an annual taxpayer-funded subsidy, proportional to the number of votes they received in the 2014 election. (CBC)

The push for donations in 2016 was aided by the four byelections held during the year. Under the existing rules, a single donor (whether a corporation, union or person) could have donated as much as $39,900 to each party in 2016.

The limits allowed a donor to contribute the maximum $9,975 for the 2016 annual period, as well as $9,975 during each of the three byelection campaign periods: Whitby-Oshawa in February, Scarborough-Rouge River in September, plus the two byelections held on the same day in November in Niagara West-Glanbrook and Ottawa-Vanier.