Federal Conservatives say they are cash rich and ready to take on the Liberals in an election, but a senior party official warned that money alone won’t be enough to secure government.
Party president Scott Lamb told a virtual policy convention on Thursday the Conservatives paid off their 2019 election loan last summer, allowing donations to be banked for a campaign fund.
Still, Mr. Lamb sounded a note of caution.
“One thing I always know: If you don’t have money, you won’t get votes,” Mr. Lamb said. “But it’s no guarantee, folks, that if we out-fundraise the other parties, that we will get more votes than they do.”
Party Leader Erin O’Toole is facing challenges uniting the Conservatives and making a case to Canadians to support them.
Mr. O’Toole is to deliver a speech on Friday, and participate in a Q&A on Saturday.
Chief financial officer Scott Gibson said the party also has cash in the bank to support pre-election activities.
“We can confirm that the [Conservative Fund] is on extremely solid ground financially after paying off the 2019 election loan and is ready, with funding in place, for a national campaign if and when the Liberals call an election,” he said.
The fourth quarter 2020 fundraising result was the best in the party’s history, he said, bringing in $7.7-million compared with $6.5-million for the Liberals and $2.5-million for the NDP.
Overall fundraising for 2020 was $20.7-million, he said, compared with $15.1-million for the Liberals and $6.1-million for the NDP.
Asked by a member about the exact party balance, Mr. Gibson said it isn’t yet public information. He said the Conservative Fund will file to Elections Canada on 2020 in time for the June 30 reporting deadline.
Mr. Gibson said that, as a result of the numbers, Mr. O’Toole has ended the candidate rebate sharing program as a mechanism to help fund the national election campaign.
Under the program announced in 2018, the Conservative Party kept half the money its candidates received in tax rebates for election expenses.
Previously, money received through the rebate program had stayed with individual riding associations.
“It became apparent through the feedback our leader received throughout our last leadership that the candidate rebate program had been a great hardship to our local campaigns and, by extension, our [electoral district associations],” he said.
Still, Mr. Lamb noted that the party has yet to repay funds it received from the federal wage subsidy, as promised by Mr. O’Toole.
Braeden Caley, senior communications director for the Liberal Party of Canada, said the party will be financially ready whenever the next election is called.
In a statement, he said the fourth quarter of 2020 was the best ever for the Liberals outside an election, with 48,282 Canadians supporting the party. The Liberals have no 2019 campaign debt.
NDP spokesperson Mélanie Richer said the party paid off its 2015 and 2019 campaign debt by the end of 2020 and has enough funds to prepare for an election.
Bloc Québécois spokesperson Julien Coulombe-Bonnafous said the party has no debt, and enough money to run the next campaign. In a statement, he said the Bloc is proud to have been the only party to have not taken advantage of the wage subsidy.
The Green Party did not respond by deadline to a request for comment.
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