Liberals lead in 4th quarter fundraising as Conservative donors focus on leadership race

The Liberals raised the most money in the fourth quarter of 2016, outstripping the Conservatives by almost $1.2 million, according to Elections Canada. But Conservative donors might have been tapped out by the ongoing leadership race, giving almost $2.8 million to contenders — with the most going to Maxime Bernier.

Maxime Bernier leads Conservative leadership fundraising, followed by Kellie Leitch and Andrew Scheer

The Liberals raised $5.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The Liberal Party raised the most money from contributors in the fourth quarter of 2016, though the funds raised by both the Conservative Party and the candidates vying for that party's leadership combined for more donor dollars, according to data published Tuesday by Elections Canada.

And among those Conservative leadership candidates, Maxime Bernier topped the list for the second consecutive quarter, increasing his total money raised to over $1 million.

The Liberals raised $5,805,733 from 46,901 individual contributions in the fourth quarter of last year, their best non-election fundraising quarter in a decade. The Conservatives brought in $4,615,496 from 36,552 individual contributions, lower than the total raised by the party in the first two quarters of last year and their worst fourth quarter since 2011.

But the Conservative leadership contest might have directed donor dollars to candidates rather than the party — though contributors could give to the limit to both the party and the leadership race. In all, the 15 candidates looking for donations last quarter (which included Dan Lindsay and Tony Clement, who dropped out of the race, but excluded Kevin O'Leary, who only joined the campaign two weeks ago) raised $2,775,318 from almost 12,000 contributions.

The combined total cash haul comes in at $7.4 million, which would rank as the Conservatives' best non-election quarter since before 2005, when Elections Canada first has data available.

The Conservative Party received $585,471 of the money raised by the leadership contenders — the rest remains in the hands of the candidates.

The New Democrats, in the midst of their own leadership contest but without an official candidate yet, raised $2,014,237 from 18,689 contributions, the party's best quarter this year but their worst fourth quarter since 2011.

The Greens raised $1,273,343 from 12,448 contributions while the Bloc Québécois raised $342,265 from 3,516 contributions, the party's best fourth quarter since 2010.

Combining the four quarters, the Conservatives raised the most money in 2016 with $18.3 million, followed closely by the Liberals at $18 million. The NDP raised $5.4 million, the Greens $2.8 million and the Bloc $656,000.

Bernier leads by significant margin

The fourth quarter financial data provides the first clear indication of how the Conservative leadership hopefuls are faring against one another, as the third quarter data excluded most of the 14 candidates currently in the race.

Bernier led the pack with $586,165 raised from 3,853 individual contributions, boosting his total raised for the campaign to $1,013,674, putting the Quebec MP well ahead of his rivals.

Maxime Bernier has now raised over $1 million in his bid to be leader of the Conservative Party. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Runner-up in the fourth quarter, as was the case in the third quarter, was Ontario MP Kellie Leitch, who raised $355,121 from 1,808 contributions. She has now raised $805,543 since launching her campaign last spring.

Third was Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer, who leads the race with the most caucus endorsements. He raised $324,546 from 994 contributions.

These three fundraising front-runners may have some stiff competition from O'Leary. The businessman and TV personality's campaign boasted it raised nearly $184,000 from 1,911 donors in only 24 hours last week.

The breakdown of the remaining candidates was as follows:

  • Erin O'Toole: $258,943 from 816 contributions.
  • Michael Chong: $233,788 from 837 contributions.
  • Lisa Raitt: $181,946 from 544 contributions.
  • Andrew Saxton: $133,425 from 168 contributions.
  • Brad Trost: $133,116 from 628 contributions.
  • Chris Alexander: $116,396 from 229 contributions.
  • Deepak Obhrai: $108,333 from 214 contributions.
  • Pierre Lemieux: $112,647 from 622 contributions.
  • Steven Blaney: $92,398 from 635 contributions.
  • Rick Peterson: $71,340 from 109 contributions.

Lindsay, who withdrew from the race at the end of December, raised $29,580 from 39 contributions, while Tony Clement, who withdrew in October, raised $37,573 from 44 contributions.

Bernier and Blaney had the lowest average donation at $145.51 per contribution for Blaney and $152.13 per contribution for Bernier. The highest average donations went to Saxton ($794.20) and Peterson ($654.50).

Bernier accounted for 34 per cent of the 11,457 contributions made to active candidates. Leitch was the beneficiary of 16 per cent of all of the contributions, while Scheer was responsible for just nine per cent.

Peter Julian, who is registered with Elections Canada as a leadership contestant for the New Democrats but is not yet an official candidate with the party, raised $32,036 from 58 contributions.


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.


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