OTTAWA - Both the federal Liberals and New Democrats posted their best fundraising results in a decade last year — significantly eroding the Conservatives' cash advantage just as an election is looming.
Still, the governing party raised $20.1 million last year, its third-best result in 10 years and considerably more than either of the opposition parties.
The Liberals raked in $15.8 million and the NDP $9.5 million, according to quarterly financial reports filed with Elections Canada.
The Conservatives have ruled the federal fundraising roost since 2004, when individual donations were capped at $5,000 a year and union and corporate donations were severely restricted.
The Tories tightened the screws further in 2007, capping individual donations at $1,000 (indexed to inflation) and banning corporate and union donations outright.
The Conservatives, least reliant on wealthy individuals, corporations and unions, were able for years to routinely pull in more donations than the two opposition parties combined.
But both the Liberals and NDP have made concerted efforts over the last few years to finally adapt to the new regime, becoming more proficient at raising small amounts of money from many donors.
The Liberals have made huge strides since Justin Trudeau took the helm almost two years ago. Their fundraising haul last year was up 40 per cent over 2013.
The NDP's take was up 15 per cent over 2013 while the Conservatives were up 11 per cent.
The 2014 numbers, based on adding up the results of each quarter, could be adjusted somewhat when the parties file their annual financial reports in a few months.
Although the opposition parties are steadily closing the gap with the governing party, Conservative spokesman Cory Hann noted that the 2013 Tory take was its best result in a decade for a non-election year.
Moreover, Hann said the party's fourth-quarter haul of $6.6 million was its best ever in the decade, election year or not.
"This is a record non-election year and best fourth quarter for us in a decade," Hann said. "Canadians know the tough job of being prime minister requires a strong, serious leader and our fundraising results show that Stephen Harper is that leader."
All three parties are in a fundraising frenzy as they prepare for an election within nine months.
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