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Reforming the financing of political parties

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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.

The context

The Canada Elections Act governs campaign donations and the financing of political parties and candidates in Canada. The law ensures transparency and regulates the financial relations and operations of political parties and candidates. However, more needed to be done to rebuild public confidence in the integrity of the democratic process, and to ensure that influence could not be bought through political donations. Donations from corporations, unions, and organizations were of particular concern, since they allowed for a contribution of funds from unknown original sources.

What this means for Canadians

These changes increase transparency, reduce opportunities to influence politicians with contributions, and help Canadians feel more confident about the integrity of the democratic process. They level the playing field among individual contributors and encourage political parties to engage the electorate more directly.

The Action Plan

The Government of Canada has toughened the laws around the financing of political parties and candidates to reduce the opportunity to exert influence through large donations. Effective January 1, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • imposes a complete ban on contributions by corporations, unions, and organizations;
  • lowers from $5,000 to $1,000 the annual limit on contributions an individual can make to a particular registered party;
  • provides for a new distinct $1,000 annual limit on contributions an individual can make in total to the local entities of a particular registered party (candidates, nomination contestants, and district associations);
  • lowers from $5,000 to $1,000 the limit on contributions that  an individual can make to a particular independent candidate; and
  • makes it an offence to wilfully give or to receive a cash donation of more than $20.

In addition, the Act bans secret donations and gifts to political candidates (see related fact sheet called “Banning secret donations to political candidates” for details).

For more information

For more information on this specific measure, please refer to the relevant section of the Action Plan, or contact us.

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