05.03.2017 12:40 PM

Follow the money

We just had a Daisy staff lunch – in part, to welcome the newest member of the team, Madi Fuller – and talked a lot about this shocker, from CP:

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives showed off their fundraising prowess during the first three months of the year, raking in almost twice as much as the governing Liberals despite being in the midst of a leadership contest that could be siphoning off potential donations to the party.

When the leadership contestants’ money haul is added in, the Conservatives raised more than three times the Liberal take.

According to financial returns filed with Elections Canada for the first quarter of 2017, the Conservative party pulled in $5.3 million from almost 42,500 donors, compared to just $2.8 million from 31,812 donors who gave to the Liberals.

The Conservative Party has always done well at fundraising. But to take in three times as much as the governing party? Huh? What is going on?

In any other leadership race, candidates siphon off dough, leaving their party with much less. That hasn’t happened here, as my former colleague Joan Bryden notes.

How can this be happening, when the CPC is:

  • leaderless
  • powerless
  • hopeless

(Okay, maybe they’re not “hopeless,” but I had a little recurring refrain going there, and I wanted to keep it alive.)

I don’t have a theory about any of this, and so I welcome yours.  But if I were advising the governing party, I would be concerned, to put it mildly.  During the years I was privileged to work for Jean Chretien, nothing like this ever happened to us – we topped the polls, and we did great at fundraising.

So what the heck?  Comment are open.




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    Robert Walker says:

    Could it be that the Liberals have seen a drop off of donors due to walking away from certain campaign promises, including Electoral Reform? I for one was very disappointed, having supported the proposal as a delegate at the MTL convention in 2014.

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      Warren says:

      Well, then the dollars should’ve gone to the NDP, who pushed that issue. The Tories were onside with the Grits.

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        Robert Walker says:

        Agreed. I was just thinking of the gap. Not of the increase in Tory giving.

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        Drew says:

        I’m with Robert on this one. People have a comfort range on policies like finance and a single issue like Electoral Reform might bend them to consider the Liberals, but it wouldn’t make them throw support behind the NDP necessarily. They would rather abandon the issue and stay in their comfort range. You know?

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    Carey Miller says:

    I wonder if this is a result of the continuous, unending, ceaseless, incessant, unrelenting, perpetual, nonstop, unremitting, perpetual, untiring calls for donations from the Liberal Party. Rarely does a day go by without an email with a bright red logo asking for a donation to stave off some sort of political apocalypse.

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      Ann Jarnet says:

      I am with you here. I screamed at a well-known figure of the broadcasting industry who called me over and over to see if I would give just a bit more. Retired, I had given what I felt I could afford, and kept telling the callers to take my name off the list. The persisted. I bought a whistle at Dollarama and used it on the next, and final, caller. They will NEVER get another cent from me.

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    Kevin T. says:

    Honestly, for me, I am taking a break over the general tone-deafness. I didn’t care about electoral reform and was glad when they stopped the circus. It was a flailing promise made in desperation, so give it up already. I want to support my guys, and I overall like them, but damn, I just gotta let go a bit, to see if it feels right again. Never Tories, nope on NDP, and I love BQ misery, so I am in waiting mode for them to get their act a bit more together.

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    Craig McKie says:

    I can only speak from personal experience. I started donating to get rid of the odious Harper crusaders. I have now stopped donating. I told them why. Perfidious nonperformance on electoral reform, nonperformance on gutting unwarranted and ill-advised state surveillance in C-51, and foot dragging and silliness on the marijuana front. I just attended the 50th anniversary of my undergrad class graduation. Back it its day cannabis aromas in the classrooms were not unknown. Is a long lifetime of exposure enough experiential trialling? Further, I have no current inclination to donate to the NDP since it has drifted far from my ideological take on things. Currently no party comes close to representing my views. There might be a clue in the last remark for the opportunistically inclined among us.

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      Miles Lunn says:

      I think the difficulty the Liberals face as they are a middle of the road party so whichever direction they go they anger one side or if in the mushy middle they don’t please anyone, but still may win in terms of votes as they are preferable to others. Certainly a lot of progressives might be disappointed, but the Liberals also have to worry about the Blue Liberals who are less vocal but far more dangerous. Every vote they lose to the NDP or Greens does hurt them, but every vote they lose to the Tories is even more damaging as that is the only party that can realistically beat them.

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    Dork in East York says:

    The CPC are still in relatively good shape for an opposition party. 99 seats and two years to get their act together. They aren’t a lost cause.

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      Terence Quinn says:

      When the Liberals lost the first election to the conbots they were closer in seats than they were under Iggy. I see the same thing happening to the Tories in 2019. They will go down to about 80 seats or so.

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        Vancouverois says:

        Sure, if they’d chosen American O’Leary for leader.

        As it is, don’t count on it.

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    Charlie says:

    Conservatives have always been better at fundraising because its much, much easier to raise money on the fear of losing something than it is on the prospect of gaining something. The Conservatives can fundraise by stressing the need to build strength and take the fight to Trudeau to prevent him from reversing Conservative policies.

    The Liberals may be the governing party, but with that comes complacency. Supporters and members feel like they’ve accomplished their mission and feel no requirement to financially support a party that holds a massive majority government and is broadly popular in across Canada. Its hard to make an argument to smaller donors when the appearance is that the Liberal party has everything it could want.

    The other issue is that the Liberal Party has a major fucking communications-strategy problem. What brand marketing have they done to give supporters a reason to donate to them over the past 6 months? Canadians are constantly bombarded with news headlines of issues facing this government and the Liberals perpetually fail to get ahead of an issue and push their own narrative. Its the small and easy stuff that is eating up far too much oxygen in the media that the PMO is failing to get a handle on.

    At this point, maybe its time to re-consider Kate Purchase’s role in the PMO and bring someone else in who can provide a better, more proactive sense of direction on the PR front.

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      P. Brenn says:

      agreed Cons are better at this ..but the difference in amount is somewhat shocking to me …

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    Jamie Gilcig says:

    I think it comes down to the core of the Conservatives being truly more partisan, which includes supporting their party.

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      Kelly says:

      There you go. Angry white guys have all the money and they’re really angry. But their policies – – especially Bernier’s – – are literally bonkers. They will put half the country in poverty but the 20% of the country that’s conservative doesn’t care.

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        Miles Lunn says:

        Actually the wealthy tend to favour the Liberals even if their policies may not appear to favour the wealthy. It’s very tough to become rich without being well educated and generally more ideological right wing parties tend to do poorly amongst the well educated. The more extreme elements in the Conservatives who are most likely to donate often tend to be those with lower levels of education so probably not overly wealthy. As for Bernier’s policies putting half into poverty please. People’s incomes are primarily determined by what job they have and due to supply and demand you will always have the majority employed and many jobs require certain skill sets thus they will pay well above the poverty wage. A lot of attention is put on low wage jobs which is fair, but it’s important to remember the average wage is around $24/hour which is well above the poverty line. Likewise most social programs are handled by provincial governments not the feds, all the feds do is transfer payments and even if Bernier cuts those, his tax cuts will be large enough that the provinces can, probably will, and should raise their taxes which will easily cover any loss.

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    Patricia Morfee says:

    No one has mentioned the obvious that it could be the Conservative donors are more well heeled than the other parties. I give monthly but am on a pension so can only give so much which I have explained to many callers. I am not particularly upset with Liberals just would like to get rid of the two Conservatives in our riding that bring nothing, federally or provincially.

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    Daniel Polowin says:

    I’d say the Liberals are similar to the Democrats under Obama:
    a charismatic leader, but the party itself lacks much ambition of vision and is unable to generate much excitement (or legislative accomplishment) between elections.

    Also, most of the provincial governments are Liberal or have “Liberal” in their names. Most have been in power awhile and/or are not particularly popular.

    It’s a diluted brand right now.

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    Matt says:

    Third worst quarterly total since Trudeau became leader of the Liberals.

    The CPC number shocked me a bit, as I was expecting a lower figure due to the leadership race.

    But according to EC fundraising numbers the CPC leadership candidates pulled in another $4.6 million in the first quarter 2017.

    At the provincial level the Ontario PC’s pulled in about $30,000 more than the Wynne Liberals, IIRC $110,000 gor the PC’s to $80,000 for the Libs.

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      Matt says:

      Correction on the Ontario provincial parties fundraising for Q1 2017

      PCs – $141,000

      NDP – $62,000

      Liberals – $61,000

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    Kevin says:

    As a hunch, I’d say that Conservative donors see their party as the underdog, up against a much more popular and dominant Liberal party, and so are more motivated to get out the cheque books. All hands on deck, noses to the grindstone, support the noble cause, and other cliches. Liberals these days feel much more confident and well-positioned and don’t feel so under siege.

    As for your recurring refrain, omne trium perfectum, as they say.

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    Sean Cummngs says:

    I bought a membership and donated to keep out Kellie Leitch and the bald reality TV host. I suspect there are others like me who have done the same.

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    billg says:

    I don’t put much stock in it, the CPC under Stephen Harper have become the single Conservative voice in Canada, Liberals and NDP still fight it out for the 25 dollar donations of students and young progressives.
    And I see Cash for Access has ramped up again so, Liberals shouldn’t worry too much.
    Besides, a CBC headline called the Defense Minister’s lie ” the odd boast”, so, you don’t need fundraising when you get that kind of PR help.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Rabid with your money is one thing. Rabid with your feet is quite another.

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