TORONTO — The new year marks a new fundraising reality for Ontario’s political parties, which now have to get by without funding from their top donors — corporations and unions — as they try to fill their coffers ahead of next year’s election.
The 2016 figures from Elections Ontario show corporations made up roughly 90% of the Progressive Conservatives’ top donors and about three quarters of the governing Liberals’ top donors. The New Democrats’ top donations came from unions.
The figures show the Progressive Conservatives out-hustled the other parties, raising nearly $10 million, while the Liberals raised $6 million and the NDP raised almost $3 million. The numbers don’t include donations made to constituency associations.
The Tories raised a whopping $3.9 million in the Scarborough-Rouge River byelection alone, and of the 136 donors to give the maximum amount, just 15 were individuals.
The old rules allowed individuals, corporations and unions to donate $9,975 to a party each year, but they were also allowed to donate the same amount during a byelection period — and there were three last year. There were four byelections, but two were held on the same day.
The Liberals likely would have raised considerably more in 2016 had they accepted party donations in the Sept. 1 and Nov. 17 byelections. In the Whitby-Oshawa byelection early in the year, the Liberals raised $2.6 million. But after they came under fire over the summer for the loophole that allowed extra donations during byelections, the Liberals said they wouldn’t make further use of it.