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Updated: Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:00:00 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Conservative fundraising runs into roadblock in Quebec



With the next election just over a year away, a pre-electoral push by the federal Conservatives is underway to charm Quebecers. Lebel is trying to woo a province where the party holds just five seats and polls have often suggested it sits fourth in popular support. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

With the next election just over a year away, a pre-electoral push by the federal Conservatives is underway to charm Quebecers. Lebel is trying to woo a province where the party holds just five seats and polls have often suggested it sits fourth in popular support. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

The prime minister's Quebec lieutenant, Denis Lebel, has spent the past couple weeks crisscrossing his home province on what the party is billing as his "End of Summer Tour" — a 12-day trek that has taken him from Charlevoix to Mount Royal to Saguenay and finally to a rally in Quebec City on Friday.

Lebel, who is also the federal infrastructure minister, says in a statement posted to the summer tour's official website that his goal is "reach out" to both card-carrying Conservative supporters and Quebecers at large "in order to listen to them."

"Evidently," he adds, "we also want our message to be heard."

If he really wants to dig deep into the details of his party's often fractious relationship with La Belle Province, though, he may want to dive into the data contained in the latest batch of financial reports filed by Quebec Conservative riding associations.

Conservative riding associations

According to the most recent returns, 30 of the 75 Conservative riding associations in Quebec reported no donation revenue at all in 2013.

An additional 20 associations pulled in less than $1,000 total throughout the year.

That number includes Lebel's own riding association of Roberval–Lac-Saint-Jean, which netted just $650 from three contributors.

In Pontiac — the riding held by former Foreign Affairs minister Lawrence Cannon from 2006 until 2011, when he was ousted by New Democrat rookie Mathieu Ravignat — contributions to the Conservative riding association somehow managed to work out to –$5,301.03.

(How, precisely, a riding association can fundraise a negative number of dollars is a mystery, as they don't appear to have refunded any contributions, which would normally account for such a result.)

Despite those somewhat sobering numbers, Lebel can take some comfort in his party's fundraising prowess in Montreal's Mount Royal, where the looming retirement of longtime Liberal MP Irwin Cotler in 2015 has emboldened Tory hopes of snagging their first seat in metropolitan Montreal.

Not surprising, it was also one of the stops on the minister's summer-ending tour.

Mount Royal Tories top Liberals in donations

In 2013, the Mount Royal Conservative Association raised $19,205 raised from 74 contributors.

To put that in perspective, over the same time period, the local Liberal association mustered up just $3,972 in donations from 59 supporters.

The biggest single haul for Quebec Tories, however, was in Minister of State for Small Business Maxime Bernier's home riding of Beauce, where 236 donors kicked in $45,905 to fill up the local coffers.

Overall, Quebec Conservative riding associations raised $177,733 in 2013.

That works out to three per cent of the Canada-wide grand total of $3,705,750.57.

New Democrat riding associations, meanwhile, raked in a comparatively whopping $348,592.87 in Quebec — just under 30 per cent of the party's Canada-wide total of $1,253,820.47.

Just five Quebec NDP riding associations reported no revenue at all, and 11 brought in less than $1,000.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's riding of Outremont pulled in the single highest total —  $22,325 — and the most extensive donor list was reported by Notre-Dame-de-Grace, which garnered the support of 551 contributors.

As for the Liberals, despite the end-of-May deadline, 13 of the party's Quebec riding associations haven't yet filed the required paperwork for last year — including Papineau, home of Justin Trudeau.

Liberals lag behind NDP

The available numbers, however, suggests that, as of last December, the determinedly upward trend the party has been enjoying in the polls wasn't causing a similar boost in fundraising numbers, at least at the local level.

In total, Quebec Liberal riding associations raised $246,945.89 in 2013, which is just over 10 percent of the cross-Canada total.

Of the 62 that have filed returns with Elections Canada, 10 reported receiving no contributions at all, and another 20 took in less than $1,000.  

The biggest windfall landed in Saint Leonard–Saint Michel, which reported $39,227 in contributions, with Brossard–La Prairie fielding the highest number of individual contributors at 264.

The Liberals can, at least, console themselves with the fact that they aren't the Bloc Québécois, whose riding associations raised just $117,216 in 2013.

That puts the once Quebec-dominant Bloc just slightly behind the Conservatives, and in last place, although that number could change, as there are more than 20 associations that haven't yet filed their 2013 reports.  

Of the Bloc riding associations that have submitted their numbers, Bas-Richelieu–Nicolet–Becancour is currently in the lead, with a final tally of $36,205 from 386 donors.

Seventeen associations reported no contributions at all, and 11 took in less than $1,000.

(Methodological note: As only 21 Green Party riding associations have filed reports for 2013, those numbers have been left out of this analysis.)

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