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New Proposed Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act

Backgrounder

New Proposed Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act

Government House Leader's Office

The Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act would, if passed, introduce reforms in several key areas, including:

  • Contributions to political parties and other political actors (i.e., candidates, constituency associations, nomination contestants and leadership contestants)
  • Advertising spending by third parties during an election period, and political parties and third parties in the six months before a scheduled general election is called
  • Regulation of nomination contestants (i.e., individuals who compete to represent a political party as a candidate in a particular riding).

The bill also introduces a number of other proposed changes, including rules around loans and guarantees, a per-vote allowance and election expense reimbursement thresholds.

Contributions, Donations and Fundraising

Ontario is proposing a new approach to the way parties, candidates and constituency associations are funded, including tougher rules about fundraisers.

Current system

How this would change

Corporations and unions are allowed to donate money to parties, candidates, constituency associations, nomination contestants and leadership contestants.

Corporations and unions would be banned from donating money or guaranteeing loans to parties, candidates, constituency associations, nomination contestants and leadership contestants.

Other types of unincorporated groups (e.g., a neighbourhood association) would also be banned from making donations, except for those groups affiliated with political parties.

Individuals may give a maximum of $33,250, or:

  • $9,975 to each party annually and in an election period
  • $1,330 to a candidate, to a maximum of $6,650 to the candidates of a party in an election period
  • $1,330 to a constituency association, to a maximum of $6,650 to the constituency associations of a party each year.

No limits on contributions to nomination contestants.

Individuals would be allowed to give a maximum of $3,600, or:

  • $1,200 to a party each year
  • $1,200 to the candidates of a party in an election period
  • $1,200 to the constituency associations and nomination contestants of a party each year.

No limits on individual contributions to leadership contestants.

Individuals would be allowed to give a maximum of $1,200 to each leadership contestant of a party annually in a calendar year that falls during a leadership contest period, or a calendar year during which the contestant is required to be registered.

No per-vote allowance to political parties.

Parties would receive an annual per-vote allowance, starting at $2.71 for every vote received in the previous general election. This amount would be reduced gradually over five years, at which time the need for the allowance would be reviewed.

(Note: to be eligible for public funding, parties would need to receive at least two per cent of the vote in the previous election or at least five per cent of the vote in electoral districts where the party ran candidates.)

No disclosure requirements for political parties about fundraisers.

Parties would be required to publicly post information about all fundraisers on their website in advance of the fundraising event date, including the fees being charged and the recipients of the funds.

No limits on the amount that an individual can contribute at a fundraising event, besides general contribution limits.

Individuals would be allowed to give a maximum total of $1,200 to all recipients at a fundraising event.

Paid labour is not considered a political contribution.

                  

Paid labour would be considered a political contribution.

The legislation would also clarify the distinction between paid and unpaid labour for the purpose of political contributions.

In addition to the above legislative proposals included in the current bill, the government plans to introduce further amendments.

Current system

How this would change

MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants and leadership contestants are allowed to attend political fundraising events.

MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants and leadership contestants would not be allowed to attend political fundraising events.

These political actors would still be allowed to attend community events.

No per-vote allowance for registered constituency associations.

A per-vote allowance would be introduced for all registered constituency associations who have run registered candidates in an election. 

Political Advertising

The proposed changes would limit the potential influence of third parties both during and before an election period, and help level the playing field among political parties before an election period.

With these changes, Ontario's approach to the regulation of third-party advertising would be the most comprehensive in Canada.

Current system

How this would change

No limit on what political parties can spend on advertising before an election period.

Parties would be limited to spending no more than $1 million on advertising in the six months before a scheduled general election is called.

No limit on what third parties can spend during or before an election period.

Third parties would face the following restrictions on political advertising:

  • $100,000 maximum political advertising spend during an election period, including a limit of no more than $4,000 on political advertising in a specific riding
  • $600,000 maximum political advertising spend during the six months before a scheduled general election is called, including a limit of no more than $24,000 on political advertising in a specific riding.

No rules about whether third parties may collaborate on political advertising campaigns, and few rules to deter third parties and political actors from attempting to circumvent campaign finance regulation.

Strict anti-collusion measures for circumventing (or attempting to circumvent) third party spending limits to help ensure spending rules are followed, along with new, clear rules addressing coordination between third parties and political actors.

Government advertising, which is non-partisan, is limited by the Government Advertising Act during an election (writ) period.

The existing limitations on government advertising during an election period would be extended to the 60 days before a scheduled election period.

The proposed legislation also clarifies what government advertising is subject to these limitations, allowing the government to continue essential communications (e.g., public health warnings, emergency preparedness).

Nomination Contestants

For the first time, Ontario is regulating nomination contestants and ensuring rules regarding spending and contribution limits apply.

Current system

How this would change

Nomination contestants are not required to register or report financial contributions, deposits or spending to Elections Ontario.

Nomination contestants would be required to register in order to receive or deposit contributions and incur expenses, and to report on these activities.

No limit on the amount of money individuals may give to nomination contestants.

Individuals would be allowed to give $1,200 to the constituency associations and nomination contestants of a party annually.

No limit on the amount of money nomination contestants can spend.

Nomination contestants would be allowed to spend up to 20 per cent of the candidate spending limit in the electoral district in the previous election.

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