Federal Liberals triple donations in first half of 2009 - Metro US

Federal Liberals triple donations in first half of 2009

OTTAWA – The federal Liberal party is no longer a financial basket case.

Rocco Rossi, the party’s national director, reports that the party has raised roughly $5 million in the first six months of 2009 – triple its cash intake for the same period last year.

Indeed, the party’s haul in the first half of the year is almost as much as the $5.9 million it raised in total over 12 months last year.

“Very, very good progress on the fundraising side,” Rossi said in an interview Monday.

He acknowledged the party still has a long way to go to catch up with the cash-hoovering Conservatives.

Last year, the Tories raked in $21.2 million, more than triple the Liberals’ take. In the first quarter of this year, they hauled in $4.4 million to the Liberals’ $1.8 million.

Rossi said the Liberals will pull in more than $3 million in the second quarter, which ends Tuesday. The Conservatives’ fundraising results for the same period won’t be released for another few weeks but Rossi said he expects the gap between the two parties will be reduced to about $1 million.

“I take nothing for granted. They’re very formidable and it will take us a while to match that. But relative to where we were, there’s clearly a very strong Ignatieff effect,” Rossi said, crediting the leadership of Michael Ignatieff for the party’s fundraising turnaround.

Rossi said the party’s membership has increased along with its cash intake, from 40,000 in January to about 90,000 now. He’s aiming for 100,000 members by Labour Day in early September.

Rossi is attempting to boost the party’s second-quarter fundraising results with a last-ditch push for donations. In an email solicitation sent out Monday, he urged prospective donors to make a contribution within the next 48 hours, maintaining the second quarter results “will have an enormous effect on how Canadians view our organization.”

“A strong showing at this decisive moment will demonstrate to those taking a wait-and-see approach that the Liberal party is ready to govern and that Michael Ignatieff is ready to lead,” he wrote.

“It’s as simple as this: your donation today will inspire others to donate in the coming weeks and months – ensuring that we have the funding to fight the Harper Conservatives on an equal footing.”

The Liberals have lagged far behind the Tories in fundraising since political financing reforms in 2004 effectively banned corporate donations.

Liberals had always been the most reliant on big corporate cash and have had the most difficulty adjusting to the new regime, which forces them to rely on small donations of no more than $1,100 from tens of thousands of individuals.

“It’s hard to change a culture,” Rossi said.

“We’re seeing the beginnings of that change and I think that’s a hopeful sign for the Liberal party.”

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