OTTAWA — The federal Conservative party raised substantially more money than the governing Liberals last year, as new Elections Canada figures show the Official Opposition has been filling its coffers ahead of a potential election this year.
The Conservatives ended 2020 with a major surge in donations in the final quarter, while the Liberals also drummed up more contributions in the last three months of the year.
The Conservatives raised $7.7 million from about 46,000 donors between October and December, according to Elections Canada, while the Liberal party says it drew in $6.5 million from some 48,000 donors.
The contributions roughly doubled the Liberal party's third-quarter sum, marking its best-ever quarter outside of an election year and its most lucrative fourth quarter on record — but not enough to make up for a year of lower figures.
The Liberals raised about $15.1 million in 2020 compared to the Conservatives' $20.7 million, according to totals submitted to Elections Canada.
The Conservatives held a leadership race last year, but parties of all stripes have also been ramping up their fundraising efforts amid growing speculation about a federal election before the year is out.
"While other parties have pushed for an election, the Liberal party's focus is to do everything it takes to keep Canadians safe and supported through this global crisis — and that will continue to be the case," Liberal spokesman Braeden Caley said in an email.
The comments come as all parties start to lay the ground work in ridings across the country, including with candidate recruitment and green-light committees for vetting would-be nominees.
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole said last week the party's healthy cash haul during his first six months at the helm were proof his focus on the economy and job creation is resonating.
"The Liberals can focus on keeping their own jobs, Conservatives are focused on securing yours," he said last week in a statement.
Meanwhile the NDP says it raised $2.5 million in the final three months of 2020, allowing it to pay off the last of its campaign debt.
The windfall last quarter makes up more than 40 per cent of the $6.1 million raised by New Democrats throughout 2020.
The party says it still has more than $1 million in its coffers after slaying the hefty $10-million debt from its 2019 election campaign.
The Bloc Québécois registered more than $961,000 in contributions from less than 1,000 donors between October and December, and $1.6 million throughout 2020.
The Green party says it raised $1.4 million in the fourth quarter, and $3.5 million for the whole year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2021.
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press