07/06/2012 07:47 EDT | Updated 07/06/2012 07:49 EDT

2011 Financial Returns Mark Best Year Of Fundraising For Tories

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It was a banner year for the Conservatives. Not only did they win their long sought-after majority, the Tories also raised $22.7 million in 2011 -- their best performance since the party’s creation more than eight years ago.

Being an election year, the fundraising organizations of all parties were in over-drive. The Conservatives last raised this much money when Canadians went to the polls in 2008, when the party received $21.2 million in political donations.

The Liberals raked in $10.1 million last year, the most they have raised since 2006, while the Green Party attracted $1.7 million in donations. The Bloc Québécois received about $789,000 in donations to their head office.

Since the party applied for an extension to file their return, the amount raised by the New Democrats in 2011 is not yet public. They join the Rhinoceros and Marijuana parties, among others, in their tardiness. But the NDP recorded some $7.5 million in donations in their 2011 quarterly returns.

In addition to giving us a peek at their fundraising, the returns also provide a glimpse into what money is coming into the parties and what it is being spent on.

The Conservatives had $46.9 million in revenues last year, almost half of which came from donations. Another quarter came from the per-vote subsidy, while 21 per cent of 2011’s revenue came in the form of rebates on election expenses. Only two per cent of revenue came from membership fees. At a cost of $15 per year, this suggests that the party might have roughly 73,000 members.

Almost $14 million was spent on television ads and another $444,000 on polling, while the party doles out $6 million in salaries and benefits. In all, the party spent $1.5 million more than it earned in revenues during the year.

The Liberals, on the other hand, managed to come out in the black with a surplus of about $460,000. They had $31.5 million in revenue, less than one-third of which came from donations. Their membership dues, at $10 per year, suggest they had 27,000 paying members in 2011.

During the year, the Liberals spent less on TV ads than the Tories ($6.6 million) but more on radio ads and other advertising, to the tune of some $5.3 million. They also spent more on polling ($1.2 million) and salaries ($6.5 million).

The Greens took in $4.3 million in revenue, about a third of which came from the per-vote subsidy, and ended the year with a surplus of a little more than $305,000 in revenue over expenses. The structural load on the party is far less than either the Tories or Liberals, at less than $1 million in salaries. The Bloc Québécois, meanwhile, had $4.1 million in revenue, the majority of it coming from the (now diminishing) allowance. Of note is that the party’s leadership race at the end of the year cost them about $250,000.

Of the smaller parties that managed to file on time, the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party stands out with contributions totaling almost $289,000, about $111,000 of which was spent on salaries and benefits.

Based on the quarterly returns from the New Democrats in 2011, it seems that the NDP also had a banner year – both in terms of money raised and electoral results. But that still puts them behind the Liberals, as they were in the first quarter of 2012. Both parties have a long way to go before they can challenge the fundraising machine of the Conservatives – the first step towards replacing them as government.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers on most Tuesdays and Fridays. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls, and electoral projections.

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