OTTAWA - The federal Conservative and Liberal parties are both boasting to supporters that they are on the cusp of raking in $2 million in donations this month as a self-imposed midnight deadline looms.
The very public running tallies of donations are just the latest twist in a furious fundraising battle that has seen the Liberals under Justin Trudeau start to chip away at the Conservatives' long-running fundraising supremacy.
The New Democrats have also joined the fray, telling supporters in emailed pitches this week that they've raised more than $525,000 in December in an effort to reach a target of $750,000 by midnight.
Donors wishing to cash in on fat tax rebates for political donations on their 2013 tax return must make a contribution before the New Year, a fact all the political parties emphasize in their pitches for donations.
The three major parties have all been sending out almost daily pleas over the past three weeks.
But the year-end effort to stampede partisans into contributions belies the fact a federal election is not expected until the fall of 2015 — and that those 75 per cent tax rebates on political donations aren't going away.
"Dec. 31 is an important fundraising deadline — and we need your help," Conservative party president John Walsh stated in an email Tuesday.
That followed a more pointed pitch on Monday, when Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney wrote that "if we lose the next election, you can bet our opponents will repeal every single tough-on-crime law we've passed."
The latest Liberal pitch came under the signature of Trudeau, who warned what the Conservatives are "capable of when they're able to outraise and outspend us month after month. That ends today."
On Tuesday afternoon, the Liberals said they had surpassed their $2-million goal.
"I'm so excited to see these numbers, but we can't stop now. We know the Conservatives are fundraising aggressively — they're not letting up either — and it's very possible that they'll still out-raise us," the party said in email to supporters.
"We have to finish strong and make sure that we come out on top."
The NDP, meanwhile, is telling supporters that "if we reach our goal of $750,000, we'll show Stephen Harper just how strong we are — and we'll have the resources we need to compete with him."
Figures released by Elections Canada show the Conservatives remain a fundraising Goliath, raking in $12.8 million through the first three quarters of 2013. That compares to $6.9 million for the Liberals (a total boosted by last spring's leadership race) and $4.5 million by the New Democrats.
The Liberals boasted more individual donors than the Conservative party in the second and third quarters of 2013, a significant achievement given the dominance of the governing party over the past decade.
As Walsh told Conservative supporters in an email when the December fundraising drive kicked into high gear earlier this month: "The success of our party over the last 10 years has been a result of our ability to consistently raise more money than our opposition."
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