PEI CPs raised $203,545 in 2021, more than the Liberals and Greens combined
Prince Edward Island’s ruling Progressive Conservatives received $203,545 in political contributions in 2021, a year that saw them increase their number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to 15 after winning an election partial in Cornwall-Meadowbank.
Donations largely eclipsed the $152,144 PCs raised in 2020, based on campaign finance data published by Elections PEI the 5 of July.
PCs also raised more money in 2021 than the combined total raised by the Green, Liberal and NDP parties.
The Greens, who currently form the Official Opposition, raised $62,436 while the Third Party Liberals raised $108,799. The NDP raised $21,325.
The PEI Progressive Conservatives. drew almost half of their 2021 donations from people who gave $1,500 or more. These donors accounted for $96,013 of total PC contributions in 2021, or about 47% of the total the party raised.
The four largest donors to PC were the Ellis family, prominent members of Summerside’s business and arts community. Brody Ellis, Josh Ellis, Marlene Ellis and Warren Ellis all donated $2,992 to the Progressive Conservatives.
Accountant Troy Bradley was the fifth-biggest political donor in 2021, donating $2,872 to the Conservatives.
In contrast, the PEI Greens. drew the largest amount from small donations. The Greens earned $25,944 from contributions under $250, or about 42% of their total donor base for 2021.
Despite their third-party status, as well as their landslide electoral defeat in 2019, the PEI Liberals have maintained a healthy donor base. The party pulled in $92,936 from donations over $250 and $15,863 from donations under $250.
It is not known how many people donated to each of the parties. While Elections P.E.I. collects and publishes the names of all contributors who donated more than $250 in a calendar year, the election authority does not collect data on the number of contributors from each party who donated less than $250.
Demonstration of support
UPEI political science professor Don Desserud said it’s been common for the ruling party to raise more funds than its opposition opponents in PEI.
“Campaigns don’t cost as much as they do elsewhere because they don’t do the big media buys,” Desserud said. “It’s very much a local thing. It’s not like you’re in a big city.”
Campaign donations are strictly regulated in Prince Edward Island, he said. Corporate donations to parties are no longer allowed while individual contributions have been capped at $3,100 in 2021.
Desserud says he doesn’t necessarily believe that current political donors have outsized influence on policy makers in Prince Edward Island.
“It’s much more of a social thing. It would be like donating to the Lions Club, donating to your local church,” Desserud said.
“As far as influence buying goes, that doesn’t happen. I see it more as a measure of what kind of support parties get.”
He said Prince Edward Island’s small size means many Islanders can have relatively easy access to their MP, as well as their premier.
“In Prince Edward Island, when you call the Premier, he answers the phone. Access here is quite easy,” Desserud said.
“Where the influence comes from – and this is always a problem – is at the corporate level. And it’s not because of campaign donations. It’s because of their ability to affect the significant savings.”
Desserud also said donation limits also limit the influence larger individual donors could have.
In 2022, the maximum limits for individual donors will increase to $3,150, Elections PEI has confirmed. in a press release.
Prince Edward Island’s Top 5 Political Donors in 2021
Brody Ellis – $2,992 – PC
Josh Ellis – $2,992 – PC
Marlene Ellis – $2,992 – PC
Warren Ellis – $2,992 – PC
Troy Bradley – $2,872 – PC