Sunday, July 17, 2005

Liberals struggling to raise money

The Liberals raised $5.2 million in private sector donations last year compared to the Conservatives $10.9 million.

OTTAWA (CP) - If dollars and cents are an accurate measure of a political party's health, the federal Liberals have a bad case of the financial sniffles. And some are worried it could turn into full-blown pneumonia.

The party that has ruled Canada for most of the last century - and enjoyed an unbroken run in power since 1993 - raised a disappointing $5.2 million in private-sector donations last year, less than half the rival Conservatives who took in $10.9 million.

The Grits stepped up their efforts in the first half of 2005, reporting contributions of $2.2 million between January and March. But they still didn't equal the $2.6 million raised by the Tories.

Since then the Gomery inquiry into the federal sponsorship scandal has cast a new chill on Liberal efforts.

In the most explosive testimony of the spring, ad executive Jean Brault claimed he funnelled $1.1 million in off-the-books money to the Quebec wing of the Liberals in exchange for federal contracts.

Brault's contentions were challenged by other witnesses, but the damage was done.

"Who would want to be associated with that kind of fundraising?" snorted Ian Brodie, executive director of the Conservatives.

"I expect they're going to have trouble raising money from individuals at all for the balance of 2005."

A lot of their fundraising problems, while exacerbated by Adscam come more from the finance laws put in place at the end of Cretien's reign. The Liberals have always received a great deal of their money from businesses while the Canadian Alliance/Reform had a large grassroots contigent that means that the new laws are far more favorable to Conservative fundraising then Liberal.

Of course, with shadow of Adscam hanging over their heads, I suspect that asking for money is a little more uncomfortable then it may have been a couple years ago for Liberal fundraisers.