Federal parties rake in millions despite pandemic

Stephanie Levitz and Joan Bryden
·2 min read

OTTAWA — The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped federal political parties from raking in millions of dollars in donations.

Financial reports filed Friday with Elections Canada show that all the main parties — except for the governing Liberals — raised more money in the third quarter of this year than they did in 2018, the last non-election year.

Indeed, the Conservatives boasted that they had their best ever third-quarter fundraising results for a non-election year.

The party raked in nearly $5.7 million from July to the end of September — almost $1 million more than the Conservatives raised during the same period in 2018.

Almost $464,000 more was pulled in by candidates in the Conservative leadership race, which ended with the selection of Erin O'Toole in late August.

By contrast, the Liberals pulled in $3.1 million in the third quarter this year, about $700,000 less than the same period in 2018.

The NDP raised $1.3 million, up from $862,000 in 2018.

The Green party pulled in just over $813,000, a jump of more than $250,000 over 2018.

Another $237,000 was raised in this year's third quarter by candidates in the Green leadership race, which culminated Oct. 3 with the selection of Annamie Paul.

The Bloc Québécois, meanwhile, took in almost $300,000 in the third quarter, a big jump over 2018 when it raised less than $25,000.

All the parties shut down in-person fundraising events after COVID-19 began sweeping Canada in mid-March. Second-quarter fundraising dipped as a result.

The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Greens all took advantage of the emergency wage subsidy program introduced by the Liberal government to encourage employers to keep workers on their payrolls during the pandemic.

The Conservatives have since stopped collecting the 75 per cent subsidy and have said they'll pay back whatever they received.

The Liberals also stopped applying for the subsidy at the end of August but have not promised to reimburse.

The NDP and Greens have indicated they intend to continue taking advantage of the benefit to avoid layoffs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published October 30, 2020.

Stephanie Levitz and Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press