Maxime Bernier's campaign claims $2M in fundraising

Maxime Bernier has raised over $2 million so far in his bid to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, according to figures provided to CBC News by Bernier's campaign.

In the first three months of 2017, Bernier has raised just over $1 million. That suggests that he remains one of the front-runners for the party's top job — along with businessman and television personality Kevin O'Leary.

According to the data provided to CBC News, the Quebec MP raised $1,020,340 from 5,715 individual contributions between Jan. 1 and March 31, averaging $178.54 per donation. Since the beginning of Bernier's bid for the Conservative leadership a year ago, his total fundraising is $2,040,274, according to these figures — which should put Bernier well ahead of his rivals.

For the first three months of 2017, Bernier is roughly even with the fundraising claimed by O'Leary. According to a tweet from O'Leary issued April 1, his campaign raised more than $1 million since the beginning of the year, with just under $120,000 of that being raised in the last three days of March.

O'Leary entered the race in January, so did not raise any money in 2016.

The veracity of the numbers cannot be confirmed until the end of April, when Elections Canada will release the official fundraising totals for all 14 candidates in the running for the party's leadership. But the up-tick in Bernier's fundraising — compared with the $586,165 he raised from 3,853 individual donations in the fourth quarter of 2016 — aligns with the increase claimed by some of his opponents.

Scheer, O'Toole report last-minute surge

Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer tweeted on Saturday that his campaign had raised just over $100,000 in the last two days of March. That alone would be equal to just under a third of all the money raised by Scheer's campaign in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Ontario MP Erin O'Toole put out a release on the same day claiming $200,000 in donations over the last week of the month. O'Toole raised $258,943 throughout the entire previous quarter.

According to a campaign spokesperson, Kellie Leitch raised about $500,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Leitch raised $355,121 over the last three months of 2016. Since entering the campaign a year ago, this would put Leitch at about $1.3 million in total fundraising.

In an announcement sent out on Sunday, former Ontario MP Pierre Lemieux reported more than $225,000 in first quarter fundraising from over 2,700 donations. In the last quarter of 2016, Lemieux had raised $112,647.

Other candidates contacted by CBC News were either unwilling or unable to provide detailed fundraising totals for the first quarter of the year. 

Members of the Conservative Party will start voting for their next leader on Apr. 28. The winner will be announced on May 27 in Toronto.