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Alberta Politics

NDP ride high as UCP fundraising plummets in second quarter of 2020

The opposition New Democratic Party has out-fundraised the United Conservative Party for the first time since 2017, according to political party financial disclosures released by Elections Alberta.

The NDP raised $1,032,796.85 between April and June 2020, almost twice as much as the governing UCP, which raised $642,677 in the second quarter of 2020.

This is almost the opposite of the first quarter of 2020, in which the UCP raised $1.2 million and the NDP trailed with $582,130.

The UCP raised $7.37 million in 2019 but has has been feeling financial strain after the conservative party racked up a $2.3 million deficit and was forced to apply for the federal wage subsidy program in order to keep its staff on payroll. The party also saw significant turnover in its staff leadership as it hired its third executive director in three years when Dustin van Vugt was hired to replaced Brad Tennant, who left earlier this year to join Nick Koolsbergen’s lobbyist company.

Alberta’s political parties largely stopped in-person fundraising events since the COVID-19 pandemic began but they all continued with their traditional aggressive email and social media appeals.

The NDP held a number of Zoom fundraisers featuring musical acts and guest speakers during the pandemic but it is the actions of the UCP that likely helped boost the NDP’s cash flow.

While the UCP would still likely be re-elected if an election were held tomorrow, public opinion polls show that Albertans do not approve of the government’s handling of health care, education and post-secondary education issues.

I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly look through the list of individual donors, but I would not be surprised if the very public fight between Health Minister Tyler Shandro and the Alberta Medical Association means there are less doctors showing up on the UCP’s list in this quarter.

The size of the donations received by the parties is also worth noting. More than half of the donations to the NDP were in amounts of $250 or less, while almost two-thirds of donations to the UCP were in denominations over $250.

One of the big successes of the UCP’s predecessor party, the Wildrose Party, was its ability to cultivate a large base of small donors, something that the UCP appears to have trended away from (the UCP received nearly 90 individual donations of $4,000 in the first quarter of 2020).

I am told that the NDP raised around $10,000 in small donations during an impromptu social media campaign encouraging supporters to donate to the NDP to celebrate Premier Jason Kenney‘s birthday on May 30.

While the UCP will likely recover their fundraising advantage or at least become more competitive with the NDP in future quarters, it does show that Kenney’s party faces some significant internal financial problems. And for the NDP, it shows that despite losing last year’s election the party under Rachel Notley‘s leadership has continued to maintain a strong base of donors during its first year as official opposition, and, presumably, as government-in-waiting.

Here is what the political parties raised during the second quarter of 2020:

The Pro-Life Alberta Political Association and Reform Party of Alberta reported no donations during this period.

The maximum annual donation to political parties was increased to $4,243 from $4,000 as of January 1, 2020.

Parties move to virtual conventions

The UCP and the Alberta Party have both announced plans to forgo their annual in-person conventions, opting to hold the meetings online this year.

The UCP’s virtual AGM will be held on October 16, 17 and 24 and will feature policy debates, board and executive elections and the traditional MLA bear-pit session.

The Alberta Party’s virtual annual general meeting is scheduled to be held on August 29 and will include board elections and likely discussion around the process to select a new leader.

Jacquie Fenske
Jacquie Fenske

Former Progressive Conservative MLA Jacquie Fenske stepped up to become interim leader of the Alberta Party in February 2020, replacing former PC MLA Stephen Mandel who resigned after failing to win a seat in the 2019 election. Fenske previously served as MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville from 2012 to 2015 and as a Councillor in Strathcona Country from 1995 to 1998 and 2004 to 2012.

Meanwhile, the UCP has scheduled its first major COVID-era in-person fundraiser on August 14, which will take the form of a horse race derby at a race track outside Lacombe.

Tickets to watch Kenney and UCP MLAs compete in a horse race, including a T-Rex race that will feature MLAs racing in “their t-rex dinosaur costumes,” start at $100 for the “MLA Cheer Team” and go as high as $3000 for the “Ralph Klein VIP Suite.”

12 replies on “NDP ride high as UCP fundraising plummets in second quarter of 2020”

I do think people on politics often do put too much emphasis on fundraising numbers and these are unusual times. However, having said that, I think this must be a concern for the UCP despite the brave face they are trying to put on.

Not all parties that do well at fundraising, do as well at elections, the Federal Conservatives are a good example of that. However, there does often tend to be an fundraing advantage for governments and right leaning parties. The UCP has both these advantages, so falling behind is troubling. I agree they probably did not do very well with doctors this quarter, but I think it is also a more general sign that Alberta’s honeymoon with the UCP is waning.

Its very understandable that the NDP would start beating the UCP in fund raising. After all, the rent seekers who were supported for 4 years by the deficit spending of the Notley government are currently being forced off the trough and they dont like it.

And personally, I like voting for the underdog, go UCP!

Bret Larson: In no way did the New Democrat Party cause Alberta’s debt or deficit. Unbridled fiscal mismanagement by the PCs did it. Lo and behold, the UCP has already made billions and billions of dollars disappear, on so many foolish things. If the UCP are the answer, the question had to be stupid to begin with. Every Albertan, from teachers who had their pensions taken over by the UCP, to those on AISH, to the doctors in Alberta, among others, has doubts about the UCP’s abilities.

You are correct. Its not all on them, all they did was stick their heads in the sand and stick their hands in their childrens pockets to pay to continue the party for four more years.

The Notley NDP borrowed 40 billion dollars to keep their voters in the condition they had become accustomed to. That is a matter of fact. They also speed the demise of the golden goose, which ddnt help.

The previous PC government do have some culpability. The extent of which we could discuss but i doubt all parties are capable of such a thing.

It’s frankly disgusting and hypocritical for the UCP fund its operations by using federal taxpayer dollars. I’m really pleased that the NDP chose to solely rely on donations from its own supporters.

It’s frankly disgusting that the UCP would prop up its operations using taxpayer dollars from the federal government. This from a party that claims Alberta is not getting a fair deal in Canada. Hypocrites.

Just saying:
“approximately 95,000 members
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is a Canadian trade union operating solely in the province of Alberta. With approximately 95,000 members as of March 2019, it is Alberta’s largest union. Most of AUPE’s members are employed in the public sector”

Course it looks like most of them think their union dues are sufficient political funds.

I’m sorry to OT and post here but I can’t believe how much like Kansas you poor lucky lucks are! Pecker (and other) media just hates me. The formerly sewered this defense of your NDP school opening plan, but mainly the commentary it fertilized.
content disabled –
First off? Shame on Postmedia for not publishing the actual plan and costing provided to them by the opposition party. I guess when every (quaintly refered to as) newspaper in the province is owned by one American hedge fund we are expected to accept all sins and emissions! Anyway, I have put on my hazmat suit and waded through the comments. Good lord! Why did I ever buy a PC membership! This lot makes Rob Anders look like a contender for Governor General! I mean you have the angry boring pedant claiming there can be no tax give away when the beneficiaries report losses during a period of maximum Alberta tax advantage even though they continue to pay offshore dividend settlements and obscene off shore settled salaries to executives that couldn’t find their own souls with two hands and a flash-light! Then you have have the malfeasance deniers. Yes, those irritating mini trolls who are set with the task of stamping out the depth and breadth of Alberta’s conservative ineptitude when compared to Norway. Yes that Norway. The little country that watched closely what Lougheed and Trudeau fought about. Their expert citizens decided to use intelligence to determine the best ideas on both sides of our dysfunctional argument and even though we had fifteen years head start they managed to squirrel away over 1.5 TRILLION when you combine their sovereign wealth and national pension funds, even while paying 100% of foreign aid, EU development costs, national military, police, healthcare, and education to name a few. In other words? Being who you wish you were and having done what you wish you’d done. If you were half as smart as you are gullible? You would have sub contracted governance to Norway long ago!

If only we were Norway!

Well we can be. Support independence and we can take strides to make a better world.

Fundraising is a marker of, if not support, at least viability in a political party. It is also indicative of the strength of its volunteer base and its organizational muscle between elections.

With that said, the Liberals and the Alberta Party together were only able to raise just over $35,000 in Q2, 5.5% of the UCP’s total for the quarter. If it’s not time for the two of them to fold up their tents and go away, perhaps they need to merge … “unite the slightly-less-right-than-the-UCP” perhaps? There simply isn’t room in the current Alberta political landscape for the two of them.

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