Though an election campaign can turn on a dime, they are not won in a day. Years and years of work is put in by every party, and the stellar breakthrough of the NDP in Quebec was due, according to the party itself, to their years of hard work in the province since Jack Layton became leader. But laying the groundwork for a future election win costs money, and the abolition of the per-vote subsidy is likely to put the Conservatives in a tremendously advantageous position.
You can read the rest of the article on The Globe and Mail website here. A condensed version with infographic is also featured in today's print edition of the Globe.
This is a little bit of a thought exercise that translates the difference in funding into seats. Obviously, the Conservatives have a major advantage.
What is really something is the number of individual contributions the Conservatives received in 2010, EDIT: when adding the four quarterly returns together (in that way, contributors who donate multiple times per year could be counted more than once). See below for more clarification.
In 2010, the Conservatives had 145,410 contributions to their national fundraising when combining their quarterly returns. That is more than the other four parties combined. The Liberals had 69,055 total individual contributions in their four quarters, the New Democrats 52,208, the Greens 13,583, and the Bloc Québécois 6,807. (Note that with the Bloc, they make more of an effort to raise funds at the riding level.)
UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments section below, this should not be taken as a total number of contributors. Nor was it meant to be taken as such - but it is an indication of how the parties compare to one another in terms of individual contributors. When their annual reports are filed we will have a better idea of how the parties compare. The Bloc, which has already filed their annual report, had 5,855 contributors in 2010 to their national headquarters.
In fact, a better way to look at this until all of the annual reports are filed would be the average number of contributors per quarter: 36,352 for the Conservatives, 17,264 for the Liberals, 13,052 for the New Democrats, 3,396 for the Greens, and 1,702 for the Bloc.
So for the opposition parties it isn't about getting people to pony up more cash - it is about finding more people willing to part with their hard-earned dollars.