Conservatives, Liberals set new fundraising records ahead of election year

Party fundraising efforts are in full swing ahead of next year's election as the Conservatives, Liberals and Greens hit new highs.

Conservatives maintain their fundraising lead over the Liberals for the year, with twice the edge of 2014

The Conservatives under Andrew Scheer (left) beat Justin Trudeau's Liberals in fundraising for the fourth quarter of 2018, but both parties set new non-election year records. (Canadian Press)

Canadians are opening their wallets to the major parties ahead of the federal election; the Conservatives, Liberals and Greens set new records in the fourth quarter of 2018 for fundraising outside of an election year.

According to the quarterly fundraising return posted to Elections Canada's website, the Conservatives raised $7,343,817 in the last three months of 2018 from 49,260 individual contributions. That makes it the best fourth quarter in the party's history and its best quarter outside of an election.

That put the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals, who raised $6,361,562 in the fourth quarter from over 45,000 contributions, according to figures provided to CBC News by the party. With the exception of the third and fourth quarters of 2015 — when the country was in the midst of an election that resulted in a Liberal majority — these are the best numbers the party has posted in any quarter on record.

It also represents a narrowing of the gap between the two parties. The Conservatives beat the Liberals by nearly $3 million in each of the first two quarters of the year.

But that early advantage gives the Conservatives a significant overall edge heading into the 2019 campaign. The Conservatives raised $24.3 million throughout the entire year, compared to $16.5 million for the Liberals.

That is a wider lead than the Conservatives had going into the last federal election. In 2014, the Conservatives raised $20.1 million and the Liberals $15.7 million, a margin of over $4 million. That gap is now nearly twice as wide.

The New Democrats continued to trail their rivals, raising $1,974,257 from 18,637 contributors. That is the party's lowest fourth quarter result since 2011. However, it is only marginally behind its fourth quarter results in 2016 and 2017, in which the NDP raised just over $2 million.

It puts the number for the NDP at $5.1 million for the year — better than 2017 but still below its fundraising numbers from 2011 to 2016. Heading into the 2015 election year, when the NDP still formed the Official Opposition, the party had raised $9.5 million.


Greens, Bloc raise more than in 2014

The Green Party set new records of its own, raising $1,470,287 from 11,608 contributions. That figure represents the party's best fourth quarter ever, trailing only the party's fundraising performance in the third quarter of 2015, when the federal election was in full swing.

The total fundraising for the year stands at $3.1 million for the Greens, making it the party's best non-election year for fundraising. It also puts the party just ahead of the $3 million it raised in 2014.

The Bloc Québécois raised $374,201, down from the fourth quarter of 2017, when the party raised just over $401,000. Nevertheless, these two fourth quarters are the best for the Bloc on record.

The party says that its fundraising increased significantly in December after Yves-François Blanchet, who was acclaimed as leader earlier this month, threw his hat into the leadership ring at the end of November.

The quarter puts the Bloc at $542,000 for the year — its lowest haul since 2014. But with only $424,000 raised that year, it suggests the Bloc is in a better financial position than it was last time it was heading into an election.

Maxime Bernier beats his 4th quarter funding in 3 days

As a new political formation, the People's Party under Maxime Bernier is only required to file annual financial returns, rather than quarterly ones. But a spokesperson for the PPC says the party raised $318,000 over the last three months of 2018, roughly in line with the party's fundraising in the third quarter.

The PPC was only officially registered with Elections Canada earlier this month, so contributors last year were not eligible for tax credits. But the party says that once it was registered, it received more than $300,000 in contributions over a period of just three days.


Éric Grenier

Politics and polls

Éric Grenier is a senior writer and the CBC's polls analyst. He was the founder of ThreeHundredEight.com and has written for The Globe and Mail, Huffington Post Canada, The Hill Times, Le Devoir, and L’actualité.

With files from Philippe-Vincent Foisy


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