Political donations have plunged in Saskatchewan since 2020 election: report

·2 min read
Saskatchewan's political parties will need to watch their spending as donations fall. (Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Saskatchewan's political parties will need to watch their spending as donations fall. (Adam Hunter/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan's political parties took in significantly less money in 2021.

According to an Elections Saskatchewan report, the Saskatchewan Party received less than half the contributions last year than it did in 2020 — donations totalled $2.1 million, down from more than $5 million. The NDP also saw donations drop almost in half to just over $1.8 million.

Most of the province's smaller parties were not immune to the slump.

The Buffalo Party netted $31,627 in contributions, down from nearly $182,905 in 2020. The Progressive Conservative Party's donations dropped to just under $12,800, while in 2020 it brought in just over $13,700 (in addition to an influx of nearly $400,000 that flowed through the PC Party Trust Fund, which was created when the party went into hiatus in 1997).

The Saskatchewan Green Party had more than $7,289 in contributions, a drop from $30,468.

Daniel Westlake, a political studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan, says such a drop is not surprising.

"I would expect to see a very significant drop between 2020 and 2021," he said. "The reality is people are paying more attention during an election year, parties are more aggressively fundraising, and the reality is that all of that stuff tends to drop off once the election is over."

The only party to see an increase in donations was the Liberal Party, with $20,988 surpassing the 2020 total of $13,609.

Corporate, union donations continue

The Saskatchewan Party continues to enjoy elevated support from businesses and corporations. More than 450 donated to the party, to the tune of $466,466. The NDP saw just 29 corporate donations made, totalling $25,039.

However, the NDP drastically outdraws the Sask Party when it comes to union donations. In 2021 there were 21 union donations for the New Democrats, netting nearly $250,000. The Sask Party received only two union donations for a total of $1,990.

Westlake noted the vast majority of donations across the spectrum were made by individuals. He believes corporate and union money are likely to become less important in the future.

"I would expect those ones to be dropping a bit, just because they're becoming less common in Canadian politics," he said. "Indeed, Saskatchewan is a bit of an outlier in that they still allow corporate and union donations.

"You go to the federal level and you go to, increasingly, a number of other provinces, and corporations and unions simply aren't allowed to donate, so in that respect I would expect individual donations to become more important."

A majority of provinces and the federal government do not allow corporate or union donations.

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