Maxime Bernier edges out Kevin O'Leary, leads fundraising race in Conservative leadership

Maxime Bernier led the field of Conservative leadership candidates in fundraising in the first quarter of 2017, raising almost twice as much as his nearest competitor still in the race and beating out his erstwhile rival — and now supporter — Kevin O'Leary.

These numbers were part of the fundraising data released Monday by Elections Canada showing that the Conservative Party raised the most money in the first quarter, raking in $2.5 million more than the Liberals.

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Bernier raised $1,031,312 in the first three months of 2017, increasing his total raised since entering the Conservative leadership race over a year ago to $2.04 million. His latest fundraising came from 4,704 individual contributors.

That number put Bernier narrowly ahead of O'Leary, who raised $1,029,568 from 7,313 unique contributors in the first quarter of 2017. That total does not include the money O'Leary might have raised in April before he withdrew from the campaign and threw his support behind Bernier.

Kellie Leitch came in third with $536,419 raised from 2,784 unique contributors, pushing her to $1.34 million raised since the start of her bid for the Conservative leadership.

Erin O'Toole edged ahead of Andrew Scheer in fundraising, taking in $424,347 compared to Scheer's $403,014. But Scheer raised that money from 2,077 unique contributors to O'Toole's 1,492. 

The rest of the field of 13 candidates broke down as follows:

- Michael Chong: $283,978 from 1,119 contributors.

- Pierre Lemieux: $237,694 from 2,150 contributors.

- Lisa Raitt: $208,368 from 922 contributors.

- Brad Trost: $120,893 from 891 contributors.

- Andrew Saxton: $94,114 from 179 contributors.

- Chris Alexander: $88,053 from 261 contributors.

- Rick Peterson: $61,743 from 168 contributors.

- Steven Blaney: $47,031 from 613 contributors.

- Deepak Obhrai: $13,372 from 43 contributors.

The numbers suggest that party members may be focusing more on the perceived front-runners as the race nears its end. Bernier, Leitch, O'Toole, Scheer, Chong, Lemieux and Raitt all saw increases in their fundraising from the last quarter of 2016, while the six bottom ranked candidates, Trost, Saxton, Alexander, Peterson, Blaney and Obhrai, all had a dip in their money raised.

Tony Clement and Dan Lindsay, who withdrew from the race last fall, raised $27,200 and $2,525, respectively.

Angus leads NDP leadership fundraising

The fundraising data also provides a first glimpse into the NDP leadership campaign. The numbers suggest that Ontario MP Charlie Angus has the edge on his rivals

Angus has raised $110,765 from 794 individual contributors, representing 44 per cent of all of the money raised by the four leadership contestants officially in the running. 

Manitoba MP Niki Ashton followed with $65,621 raised from 494 individual contributors, putting her narrowly ahead of Quebec MP Guy Caron, who raised $57,235 from 231 contributors.

Peter Julian raised $19,143 from 196 contributors, adding to the $32,037 he raised in the final quarter of 2016. That combined total, however, still puts him behind the other three leadership candidates.

Members of the NDP will begin voting in September, with the winner being announced in October.

Conservatives lead fundraising, Liberals drop

Despite the ongoing leadership race sucking in donations from Conservative-friendly donors, the Conservative Party led in first quarter fundraising with $5,308,501 raised from 42,473 contributions. This was better than their performance over the previous three quarters.

The total was just below the party's haul in the first quarter of 2016 — before leadership contestants began competing for fundraising dollars.

The Liberals raised $2,801,233 from 31,812 contributions in the first quarter of 2017, their worst quarter since 2013. The Liberals had led the Conservatives in the two previous quarters.

Donations to the New Democrats were also down, dropping to $908,892 raised from 13,404 contributions. That represents the NDP's worst first quarter since 2010 — though some of the donations that went to the four leadership contestants this quarter might have otherwise gone to the party.

The Greens raised $476,153 from 7,167 contributions while the Bloc Québécois raised $136,619 from 1,382 contributions. This was the Bloc's best first quarter result since 2011. The Bloc chose its new leader, Martine Ouellet, in March.