Parties filling coffers in record numbers for fall federal election

New figures show the Conservatives, Greens and Bloc hitting new highs in first-quarter fundraising, while Liberal first-quarter fundraising has also risen.

Conservatives set 1st-quarter fundraising record, as Greens and Bloc hit new highs

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, left, has seen his party raise more than twice the money of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals over the first three months of 2019. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Canada's political parties are filling their campaign war chests ahead of this fall's federal election, with the Conservatives, Greens and Bloc Québécois setting new records, and the Liberals posting their highest first-quarter results since just after their 2015 election victory.

The Conservatives raised $8,010,861 in the first three months of 2019 from 50,026 donors, the party's best quarter since the 2015 election and the best first quarter by any political party on record. It is also the first time outside of an election that the Conservatives have had more than 50,000 contributions in a single quarter.

The Liberals raised $3,857,163 in the first three months of this election year, their best first quarter since 2016, when the Liberals were in the midst of a post-election honeymoon. The funds were raised from 33,321 individual contributions.

The fundraising haul is similar to the Liberals' performance in the first quarter of 2015, ahead of that fall's electoral breakthrough. The Conservatives, however, have beat that quarter's pre-election fundraising by $1.7 million.

At over $4 million, the gap between the Conservatives and Liberals is the widest in any quarter since the 2011 federal election, when the Liberals were dealt their worst electoral showing in party history. This is also the first quarter in which the Conservatives have raised more than twice as much as the Liberals since 2013.

The New Democrats raised $1,226,869 from 13,713 contributors. That's down from the $1.4 million raised by the NDP in the first quarter of 2018, though it's better than the party's performance in the first quarter of 2017. 

It's also little more than half of what the party raised in the first quarter of 2015, when the NDP brought in $2.3 million ahead of that year's election.

Greens, Bloc set new records

Fundraising figures posted to the Elections Canada website show that the Greens and Bloc hit new highs in first-quarter fundraising for their respective parties.

The Greens raised $783,279 from 9,786 individual contributions over the first three months of the year, the party's best first-quarter on record — and well above the $487,000 the party has averaged in first-quarter donations since the 2015 federal election.

The numbers come as the Greens have seen their national support increase to over eight per cent and their provincial cousins score election successes in New Brunswick, Ontario and Prince Edward Island over the last year.

The party's fundraising appears to be disproportionately coming from British Columbia, however, where polls suggest the Greens have their most support and where leader Elizabeth May has her seat.

Of the donations large enough to be tracked individually by Elections Canada, 36 per cent of the money raised came from B.C., nearly three times the province's share of Canada's population.

The filings show the Bloc raised $215,421 from 2,197 contributions, also a first-quarter record. It's more than the party raised over the first nine months of 2018 and nearly twice their average first-quarter fundraising since the last election.

The Bloc acclaimed Yves-François Blanchet as its new leader in January, ending a period of internal turmoil in 2018 that saw a majority of its caucus temporarily leave the party over the controversial leadership style of Martine Ouellet, who was voted out by members last June.

People's Party raises $762K

The Bloc and the Greens aren't the only smaller parties that are looking healthier going into an election year.

According to a spokesperson, Maxime Bernier's People's Party raised $762,000 in the first quarter of 2019, more than the $649,000 raised by the party in 2018 after it was launched at the end of last summer.

That figure is more than the Green Party raised in three of the four quarters of last year and is more than the Bloc Québécois raised in any year since the last election.

The People's Party has not had as much success in the polls as the two other parties, however, at around two per cent support nationally.

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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.