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Spinning green into gold

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Elections Canada released the updated fundraising tallies for federal political parties Tuesday.

Once again the Conservative fundraising team is to be applauded. In 2011, Team Blue brought in more than $22.7 million from 168,185 donors.

The Liberals came in second. Team Red finished the year with $10.3 million from 94,219 donors.

The NDP might be in official opposition but they still trail in the money department. Team Orange raised $7.5 million in 2011 from 72,326 donors.

The Green Party was in fourth, with $1.7 million from 17, 761 donors.

The Bloc Quebecois brought up the rear with just $791,000 from 8,557 donors.

Except for the Bloc Quebecois, where the news is just dismal on all fronts, every party is probably pretty pleased with these numbers. Even mediocre spin doctors could make gold from these reports.

The Conservatives simply continue to dominate political fundraising in Canada. They raised more than all four of the other national parties combined. For every $1 the Liberals raised, the Conservatives brought in $2.20. For every dollar the NDP raised the Conservatives raised $3.

The bragging rights are pretty much all theirs. As will be the airwaves with the kind of advertising budget that fundraising haul is going to give them.

But the Liberals had their best fundraising year since before new rules kicked in banning corporate and union donations and limiting individual donations. (In 2011, the individual contribution limit was $1,100). The Liberals were kicked to the curb by most voters in 2011 but they still managed to finish second in the fundraising race, bringing in almost $3 million more than the NDP with almost 22,000 more donors than the NDP had. The total number of people who donated to the Liberals went up more than 40,000 compared to 2008, the last election year. (Because elections tend to bring in more donations it’s best to compare election-year fundraising to previous election years.)

It seems the Liberals might finally be figuring out this new fundraising thing (it’s about time) but they have many miles yet to go to match the Conservatives dollar for dollar. They also have that pesky little problem of being in the rump seat in Parliament though with the NDP’s A-team off running for the leadership, it’s sometimes hard to remember who is official opposition these days.

The NDP might be in third in the money race but it too had its best fundraising year ever. In 2008, the NDP brought in $5.5 million. In 2011, $7.5 million. The NDP also increased the number of donors by almost 11,000 people).

The Green Party earned its first seat in Parliament ever in 2011 and didn’t do too badly in the fundraising department. With $1.7 million in total donations, it’s a respectable finish and should help the party continue to grow.

Perhaps the most interesting news in the fundraising numbers however is the dismal returns of the Bloc Quebecois.

Reduced to just four seats in Parliament, the Bloc have become virtually invisible in Ottawa. The party is losing the per vote subsidy it mostly relied on (more than any other party) and in 2011 it’s money haul was pretty pathetic.

The Bloc was the only party which did not increase its fundraising efforts compared to the 2008 election.

In the third quarter it only raised $18,000 from 293 donors. The Conservatives could probably raise that in an hour. It improved slightly to nearly 2,000 donors and $141,000 in the fourth quarter. But the Bloc have to rebuild their party with virtually no money in the bank, no party budget from the House of Commons, no per vote subsidies coming in and only four MPs.

Good luck with that.

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