OTTAWA — Federal political parties are gearing up for the final parliamentary session before the next election, but while the Conservatives and the Liberals tout having many candidates nominated and money in the bank, the NDP has yet to nominate a single candidate.
NDP president Mathieu Vick says the party revamped its nomination process over the summer and the new rules came into effect about two weeks ago. Those rules were approved and distributed to ridings at the beginning of the month and nomination meetings are now being scheduled.
"We're just now starting to have all of our nomination dates up, so we're hoping to have all of our incumbents at the very least nominated by the end of 2018 and then hopefully in the new year we can get a bunch more," he said.
The NDP convention in Surrey, B.C., last week was an opportunity for members to talk strategy and Vick said the party is "feeling pretty good."
He said he's hoping the retreat was a launching pad to intensify the party's efforts, rally troops and get the ground game going, saying that the NDP has success "at the doorstep." He also said the NDP has launched a volunteering recruitment campaign and overall he's feeling "energized" about 2019.
Vick acknowledged that the party has had some financial challenges but insisted things are looking up.
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The NDP's annual fundraising returns show the party pulled in $4.86 million from 39,053 donors last year. The Tories raised $18.84 million from 94,786 contributors in 2017, outflanking the Liberals by nearly $5 million.
Tories 'aggressively nominating candidates'
Meanwhile 25 Liberal incumbents, including Leader Justin Trudeau, have been nominated as candidates for the next election, plus one new contender. The Liberal party has declared that all 183 of its MPs will be acclaimed without having to win nomination contests in their ridings, provided they meet certain fundraising, membership and voter engagement targets by Oct. 1.
And the Conservatives have nominated 133 candidates, including 46 non-incumbent candidates.
Hamish Marshall, the Tories 2019 campaign chair, said the party is doing "really well."
"We're aggressively nominating candidates and we'll be increasing that through the fall," he said.
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While the federal Liberals have made it known that they are planning on painting Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer as "Stephen Harper 2.0", the Tories are holding their branding cards close, and say they are not too worried about the Liberal strategy.
"It's a difficult thing...making arguments based on history or projecting backwards," said Marshall.
He said the Tories will focus on the government's failures rather than debating whether someone is like somebody else. And while the Conservatives branded Trudeau as "just not ready" in the last election, Marshall hinted there would be a fresh approach for 2019.
"Stay tuned for that," he said.