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UCP donations nearly double NDP’s in 2018 as Alberta election approaches

UCP raised nearly twice as much money as NDP
As 2018 came to a close, Alberta's political parties made an extra push to top up fundraising. Numbers released by Elections Alberta show the top two parties had big success. Tom Vernon reports.

Documents show Alberta’s opposition United Conservative Party raised more in the fourth quarter of last year than the governing New Democrats did in all of 2018.

New figures from Elections Alberta say the UCP brought in more than $3.9 million from October to December, with a third coming from individual contributions of $250 and under.

“We see this as a sign of growing momentum for the party,” UCP spokesman Matt Solberg said Wednesday.

“This certainly helps prepare us well for the election, but there’s a lot left to do.”

The UCP, helmed by former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney, raised nearly $6.7 million for the whole year.

READ MORE: Which Alberta parties are prepared for the 2019 election?

“On top of $1.4 million generated in membership sales alone, our party was able to raise an incredible $5.7 million in 2018, with $3.9 million of that coming in the fourth quarter alone,” UCP president Erika Barootes said in a Jan. 15 statement.

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“This kind of generosity and dedication to our efforts to build Alberta Strong & Free is unprecedented, breaking every political fundraising record in our province’s history.”

The Wildrose and Progressive Conservatives merged in 2017 to form the UCP.

READ MORE: Strong donations for Wildrose, NDP in 4th quarter; PCs rebound

The NDP reported a 2018 total of $3.4 million and a fourth-quarter amount of $1.5 million.

Roari Richardson, provincial secretary for the Alberta NDP, said the party beat its internal fundraising goals and the most recent quarter and year were both its best ever.

“It’s a very good sign for us that our donations continue to rise. We’re on an upward trend,” he said.

“It’s a very good sign for us that donors are returning after 2015. When our candidates and our teams are out on the ground, the feedback has been tremendously positive.”

The Alberta Party reported a 2018 total of $594,177 and a fourth-quarter amount of $359,554.

“With the election just around the corner, this is a big development for our party and another sign of the momentum that our candidates and volunteers are creating across Alberta,” said Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel in a Jan. 20 statement.

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READ MORE: Alberta legislature ends what could be last sitting before spring election

The Alberta Liberals reported a 2018 total of $196,464 and a fourth-quarter amount of $112,780.

The Freedom Conservative Party reported a 2018 total of $39,776 and a fourth-quarter amount of $36,825.

WATCH BELOW (Dec. 28, 2018): In Part Three of our year-end conversation with Jason Kenney, Tom Vernon speaks to the UCP leader about the spring election that’s quickly approaching. 

Year-end conversation with UCP Leader Jason Kenney (Part 3)
Year-end conversation with UCP Leader Jason Kenney (Part 3)

Money is a good indicator of political success in most — but not all — cases, according to Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt.

“It is not so important that you lead the money race, but you need enough to compete,” he said.

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“The NDP has raised enough money to compete, but it is notable that the UCP has raised twice as much.”

Bratt said it’s expected that conservative parties raise more money than social democrat ones.

“But this is a really huge gap,” he added.

He also pointed out that changes to election financing rules have clearly not eroded fundraising since these are record amounts of money.

READ MORE: Alberta wants to tighten up spending, contributions on municipal elections

It’s clear it will take a bit of time for the new rules to become entrenched.

“Almost every party violated the donation limits and will be fined,” Bratt said.

Global News has reached out to Elections Alberta for more information on potential violations and repercussions.

WATCH BELOW (Dec. 21, 2018): In Part 3 of our year-end conversation with Premier Rachel Notley, we zero in on the spring election. Tom Vernon asked Notley about when the election will take place and what she expects to happen. 

Year-end conversation with Premier Rachel Notley (Part 3)
Year-end conversation with Premier Rachel Notley (Part 3)

By law, an election must be held in March, April or May of this year.

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That means Premier Rachel Notley can drop the writ to start a four-week campaign as early as the beginning of February.

WATCH BELOW (Dec. 13, 2018): With a spring election looming, Jennifer Crosby sits down with provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon to see where things currently stand in the legislature and what the next few months might hold.

A look at Alberta politics ahead of spring election
A look at Alberta politics ahead of spring election

— With files from Emily Mertz, Global News