Federal Accountability Action Plan, April 2006
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Reforming the financing of political parties
- New limits on individual donations to parties or candidates
- A ban on contributions from corporations, unions, and organizations to parties or candidates
- A longer period to prosecute violations under the Canada Elections Act
Why we are doing this
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 needs to be done to rebuild public confidence in the integrity of the democratic process, and to ensure that influence cannot be bought through political donations. Donations from corporations, unions, and organizations are of particular concern, since they currently allow for a contribution of funds from unknown original sources.
The Government of Canada will toughen the laws around the financing of political parties and candidates to reduce the opportunity to exert influence through large donations.
Quebec, Manitoba, the United States, and France are a few of the jurisdictions that ban donations by corporations, unions, and organizations.
The Federal Accountability Act will:
- impose a complete ban on contributions by corporations, unions, and organizations;
- lower from $5,000 to $1,000 the annual limit on contributions an individual can make to a particular registered party;
- lower from $5,000 to $1,000 the annual limit on contributions an individual can make to the local entities of a particular registered party (candidates, nomination contestants, and district associations);
- lower to $1,000 the contribution an individual can make to party leadership contestants;
- lower to $1,000 the contribution that a candidate, a nomination contestant, or a leadership contestant can make to his or her own campaign, in addition to the above limits;
- prohibit cash donations to political parties and candidates of more than $20, lower from $25 to $20 the amount after which a receipt must be issued, and lower from $25 to $20 the amount individuals may donate through a “passing of the hat”;
- make it an offence for the person authorized to receive the donation on behalf of a party or candidate to knowingly accept cash donations of more than $20, and for the person contributing to willfully make a cash donation of more than $20; and
- extend the period for instituting prosecutions under the Canada Elections Act from 7 to 10 years after the day on which the offence was committed (investigations must be completed and a prosecution initiated no later than 5 years after the Commissioner of Canada Elections becomes aware of the incident).
These changes will increase transparency, reduce opportunities to influence politicians with contributions, and help Canadians feel more confident about the integrity of the democratic process. They will level the playing field among individual contributors, and encourage political parties to engage the electorate more directly.
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