Ontario Liberal party struggling to raise money since June election
Published Thursday, December 27, 2018 6:04PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 27, 2018 7:34PM EST
Ontario’s Liberal party has been struggling to raise money in the seven months since the June election, according to financial statements filed with Elections Ontario.
The party was trounced during the summer election, earning a total of seven seats and leaving the Liberals without official party status.
The downsized caucus resulted in the loss of a legislative research and hiring budget, as well as fewer speaking opportunities in Question Period. It also left them with an uphill fundraising climb.
Between June 8th, the day after the election, and late-December, the Liberals managed to raise a paltry $262,072 from individual contributions, a fraction of what the other parties in the legislature netted in the same period.
Fundraising off the back of their landslide victory, the Progressive Conservatives pulled in $1.08 million. The New Democratic Party, which gained the status of Official Opposition, raised $539,896.
Fundraising rules were changed in 2016 outlawing corporate and union donations and limiting donors to individual contributions of a maximum of $1,222 a year to a political party.
The limits have also restricted the Liberals efforts to pay off a campaign debt that saw a little over $7 million being spent, to win seven seats.
“There is a big debt, as all parties have,” Interim Liberal Leader John Fraser told CTVNews “We had a plan to come through that after the election and we’re in a position to be able to execute that plan.”
Part of the plan is using any controversial move by the Doug Ford government to convince donors to open their wallets.
The party website asks potential donors to “fight back against the careless cuts” while advertising “generous” tax credits for political contributions.
Another section, which asks for monthly donations or a one-time gift, puts it more plainly.
“We may be knocked down, but we’re not out.”
However, a tweak in fundraising rules announced in the Fall Economic Statement could go a long way to helping the party get back onto sound financial footing.
The election finances act was quietly changed in November, increasing the yearly contribution limit to a registered party, local campaign and leadership candidate to $1,600.
Party leaders and MPPs will also be allowed to attend fundraising events, which could help Liberal leadership candidates raise more money for the party.
The party is expected to decide on a date for the leadership race during their annual general meeting next year.