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Quebec's CAQ leads rivals in fundraising ahead of election, Liberals in last place

MONTREAL — Quebec's governing Coalition Avenir Québec party is dominating its rivals in fundraising and in the polls — days before the province's fall election campaign is scheduled to begin.
Quebec Premier and Coalition Avenir Quebec leader Francois Legault speaks in Levis, Que., Wednesday, August 10, 2022. The CAQ party has raised more than $928,500 so far in 2022, nearly $300,000 more than its nearest rival, the Parti Québécois.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

MONTREAL — Quebec's governing Coalition Avenir Québec party is dominating its rivals in fundraising and in the polls — days before the province's fall election campaign is scheduled to begin. 

The CAQ has raised $928,562 from 7,377 donors since the beginning of 2022, Élections Québec said Wednesday. That puts the party almost $300,000 ahead of its nearest rival, the Parti Québécois, which has raised $654,150 from 6,248 donors since the beginning of the year.

Eric Montigny, a political science professor at Université Laval, said it isn't a surprise the governing party has raised the most money.

"There are more members of the legislature, so there is more organization, which makes it easier to raise money," he said in an interview Wednesday. 

While the PQ is second for donations, it is currently polling in fifth place.

André Lamoureux, a political science lecturer at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said that even though support for the PQ has declined in recent elections, it still has a strong organization. Party supporters, Lamoureux said, tend to be devoted and engaged.

"They're generally activists who know politics and who also give to their party," he said in an interview Wednesday, describing the practice of donating to the party as a "tradition" for PQ supporters. 

The Liberal Party of Quebec — currently polling in second place — has raised $324,020, the lowest number among the province's five main parties. The Liberals also have the fewest donors: 2,381 — less than half the number of donors who contributed to any other party.

Montigny said the Liberals have been hurt by Quebec's strict election financing laws. Since 2013, individual donations have been capped at $100 per party, per year, with an additional $100 donation allowed during election years. Corporate and union donations are banned.

Before that, Montigny said the Liberals counted on fewer donors than the PQ, but tended to receive larger contributions.

Maxime Doyon-Laliberté, a Liberal spokesman, said in an email that the party is taking a decentralized approach to fundraising, with local party associations raising money in their ridings.

"We're in an election year, the teams with our candidates are becoming more and more active in this area," he said Wednesday, adding that the party has the budget to campaign "at the level of our ambitions."

Québec solidaire, a left-of-centre party, has raised $560,693 from 4,663 donors.

The Conservative Party of Quebec, meanwhile, has the most donors out of the five parties with seats in the legislature — 9,120 — but the smallest average donation, giving the party a total of $517,078. The Conservatives were also the only party to see the number of donors rise from 2021 to 2022. Last year, 7,000 people gave $310,112.

The Conservatives saw support rise with their opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, Lamoureux said, adding that supporters are ready to give money to the party. 

Quebec Premier François Legault has said he plans to officially launch the election campaign on Sunday, with the vote scheduled for Oct. 3.

As the legislature broke for the summer, Legault's party had 76 seats, while the Quebec Liberals had 27, Québec solidaire had 10 and the Parti Québécois had seven. The Conservative Party of Quebec held one seat and there were four Independents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 24, 2022.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press