Sunday, April 22, 2007

Money talking

Good to see I'm not the only one taking an interest in the financing behind Canadian politics, as Greg Weston discusses the parties' current funding levels (including details on the parties' 2006 individual donations):
Preliminary fundraising figures for the past last year at least help to explain why the Conservatives can afford to blow a fortune on Stephane Dion attack ads with no election in sight.

According to information filed with Elections Canada, the Conservatives last year raised more than $19 million from 160,000-plus relatively small personal donations...

The figures for 2006 show the Liberals raised $11.2 million from roughly 38,000 individual donations, a bit more than half the Conservatives’ tin-cup take.

But there’s a hitch: sources tell us over half of the Grit total was to support the Liberal leadership candidates, and to pay the bills of their December convention that crowned Dion.

Take the leadership accounting out of the equation and the Conservatives are raking in roughly three times what the Liberals have been collecting...

Finally, the New Democrats aren’t exactly rolling in dough, but never have been.

Last year, even without the unions, the party collected about $4.5 million in donations from over 50,000 contributors...
It's particularly interesting to note that even the Libs' leadership campaign, which presumably brought a reasonably large number of people into contact with the party who hadn't been there before, couldn't bring the Libs' total number of individual donors up to the NDP's level. Though presumably the Libs aren't complaining about their donors seemingly having plenty more money to offer on average than those from the other two main federal parties.

While the party donations certainly make for interesting reading, it's worth noting that Weston largely goes off course in pretending that the Cons' advantage in cash on hand figures to give them a substantial advantage in any election campaign. Indeed, it's only in the absence of a writ period that the disparity means anything.

After all, based on the combination of federal election reimbursements and per-vote funding, both the Libs and NDP should be sure to raise close to the amount they plan on spending over the life of a new Parliament. Which in turn means that it should be a fairly easy matter for each to take out loans (if preferably commercial ones) to fund an election campaign at or near the maximum.

Of course, each would presumably prefer to have ridiculous amounts of cash on hand as the Cons apparently do. But while the other parties may not have the same amount of mad money to spend on gratuitous ads or show off war machines in the absence of an election campaign, the spending limits will ensure that the Cons can't outspend their rivals to any meaningful degree once the writ is dropped.

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