OTTAWA — The federal Conservative party raised a million more dollars than the Liberals last year, but spent twice as much as the governing party in order to raise the cash.
Annual financial reports published today show the Conservatives raised $18.25 million from 82,662 donors in 2016, while the Liberals pulled in $17.18 million from 82,285 donors.
The records also show, however, the Conservatives spent $6.85 million on fundraising activities, compared to the Liberals' $3.1 million.
Liberals see big drop in revenue
The federal New Democrats were a distant third, pulling in $5.39 million from 26,754 people and spending $315,000 to do so.
The Conservative fundraising totals for 2016 don't account for the money raised by candidates in the leadership race that was underway for much of last year; in 2016, $3.9 million was raised.
Overall, the Liberals spent $18.58 million in 2016, the Conservatives $21.98 million and the NDP $8.3 million. The Tories also brought in $1.57 million in membership fees in 2016, down from $1.9 million the year before.
But the Liberals saw a far bigger drop in that revenue stream, thanks to the end of membership fees for that party — in 2015, they brought in more than $2 million in membership sales, but only $655,000 last year.
A spokesperson for the party said they still consider 2016 a banner year.
"(It) highlights how Canada's Liberal movement is seeing continued success in closing the gap with the Conservative party after their 10 years in power, and is continuing to consistently outraise the NDP," Braeden Caley said in an email.
A 'challenge' for the opposition
The Liberals have come under fire in recent months for so-called "cash-for-access" fundraisers, with the opposition parties alleging their fundraising events are turned into lobbying opportunities for the highest bidders.
In the spring, the Liberals introduced legislation to tighten the rules around reporting political financing, and made changes they billed to make their fundraisers more transparent.
"Canadians expect our political leaders to meet the highest standards for openness and transparency, and that's why we are challenging Andrew Scheer's Conservatives and the NDP's leadership candidates to do the right thing and bring their fundraising events out into the open," Caley said.
"To this day, they continue to refuse to do so."
The Conservatives have said they follow existing rules and the issue is about who gets access to the decision-makers in government.
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