Ontario Proposes Changes to Election Finance Reform Bill
Election Financing System Would be Among the Strongest and Most Transparent in Canada
Ontario is providing details on its proposed changes to the province's election financing rules, which would make Ontario's election financing system among the strongest and most transparent in the country.
The Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, which was reintroduced in the legislature on September 13, 2016, includes a number of proposals to change the way political parties raise and spend money. This bill has passed Second Reading in the legislature, and has been referred to the Standing Committee on General Government for review.
During the committee process, the government intends to introduce two new legislative amendments that, if approved by the committee, will be added to the bill:
- Banning MPPs, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants and leadership contestants from attending political fundraising events. This restriction would not apply to non-fundraising events or events where tickets are sold only to cover the cost of the event. It would also not impact funds raised by other means, e.g., by phone or email.
- Providing an allowance to constituency associations to offset fundraising revenues that they would no longer receive due to the reforms in this bill. Registered constituency associations in each riding would divide $25,000 per year (indexed annually), based on the proportion of votes each registered candidate received in the most recent election.
In addition to these legislative measures, the government has committed to working with opposition party members to develop a code of conduct that would set out fair, balanced rules for all elected officials and staff by January 1, 2017.
- Under this proposal, only constituency associations that are up to date on required filings with the Chief Electoral Officer would be eligible to receive the allowance. This amount is in addition to the per-vote allowance that would be paid to parties quarterly.
- The legislation proposes that these measures take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, in order to have these reforms in place before the next general election.
- Next to Quebec, Ontario already has the lowest spending limit per voter for political parties during an election period in Canada.
- These proposed amendments, as well as any others put forward by opposition members, would be debated at committee.
“Our government wants to change the way that money is raised in politics. By making our election financing rules more modern and transparent, we are helping to build the public’s faith in the representatives they elect, and strengthening our democracy.”