NEW POLITICAL FUNDRAISING RULES PASSED INTO LAW!
MONEY IN POLITICS CAMPAIGN UPDATE
In June 2003, the federal government passed Bill C-24, a long overdue
updating of Canada's political fundraising rules. Democracy Watch
and the Money In Politics Coalition (organized and coordinated by Democracy
Watch since 1999), have been the leading citizens' voice advocating changes
to these rules to make them more transparent and democratic.
The new law, which will come into force January 1, 2004, includes the
Each of these measures are part of the recommendations advocated by the
Money in Politics Coalition. Several, including the quarterly donations
reporting requirement for parties and disclosure of the terms of bank loans,
were specifically passed as amendments by a parliamentary committee in
response to Democracy Watch's efforts.
New limits on political donations:
corporations, unions and other organizations are limited to donating only
to candidates (no donations to parties allowed), with an annual donation
limit of $1,000 total to all candidates (and funnelling donations through
subsidiaries, executives, employees or anyone else is prohibited);
for individuals, the annual donation total is limited to $5,000 to each
party (including donations to the party's candidates);
these donation limits apply to donations made to parties, candidates for
nominations by riding associations, candidates for election as a Member
of Parliament (MP), and candidates for the leadership of any federal political
New disclosure obligations make it easier to know who is donating to political
parties and candidates:
political parties are required to disclose their donations and donors every
three months (currently disclosure only happens once each year);
riding associations are required to disclose their donations and donors
once each year;
disclosure of donations to party leadership and riding nomination candidates
is required before the vote;
the terms of bank loans to parties and candidates are required to be disclosed
Spending by candidates in riding nomination races is limited (as spending
by election candidates is now limited);
A general anti-avoidance provision -- a general rule will make it illegal
to try to donate through another person or organization.
There are some elements of the law not supported by Democracy Watch,
as follows, and these flaws must be corrected in order to have a fully
transparent, democratic, and ethical federal political donations system:
Donations can still be made in secret directly to federal politicians,
as long as the politician does not use the secret money for "political
purposes." This loophole will encourage donors to continue to funnel
money to politicians in secret, a recipe for corruption.
Also, donations made during election campaigns still do not have to
be disclosed before the vote takes place on election day. This loophole
means that voters will not have a right to know who is bankrolling candidates
and parties in federal elections.
In addition, new public subsidies will more than compensate the parties
for the expected shortfall in revenues from the new donation limits.
In total, parties will receive about $40 million annually in public funding.
The proposed subsidies, including a provision granting parties an annual
subsidy of $1.75 per vote received in the previous election, are excessive,
and will not encourage the parties to increase the base of their support.
Also, the new law will increase the election campaign spending limit
for parties by roughly $1 million. Typically, only the governing
party spends the maximum amount allowed, so this measure will increase
the advantage of the governing party in elections.
Overall, to be fully transparent, democratic and ethical, the
federal political donations system still needs to be strengthened through
the following measures:
However, the positive measures in Bill C-24 will mean it will be
more difficult for those who bankroll Canadian politics to remain in the
shadows. And while there is still work to be done to improve how
federal political parties and candidates are funded in Canada, and the
transparency of the political donations system, the law will help make
running for office more accessible, and political leaders more accountable.
prohibit donations from corporations, unions and other organizations (as
Québec and Manitoba have done);
prohibit politicians and parties from having secret bank accounts, and
require disclosure of every donation above $100;
cut annual public funding from $1.75 per vote to 75 cents per vote received
by each political party (which would force the parties to appeal to individual
Canadians to join and donate to them);
limit individuals to donating $1,000 total annually to each party and all
the party's candidates (this limit is closer to what an average Canadian
could afford to donate, and would prevent wealthy individuals from using
donations to influence politicians and political parties);
roll-back the increase in the spending limit for parties during elections,
and only increase it in the future by the inflation rate each year.
For a complete analysis of improvements made to the bill by the committee
that were eventually passed into law, please see: Bill
C-24 Analysis (June 6, 2003)
For an analysis of Bill C-24 as it was when it was first introduced
in Parliament , please see: Bill
C-24 Analysis (March 5, 2003)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Chairperson of the Money in Politics Coalition
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch's Money in Politics
Democracy Watch homepage