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About the Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016

Backgrounder

About the Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016

Government House Leader's Office

Contributions, Donations and Fundraising

This legislation will change the way parties, candidates and constituency associations are funded, and how much people can donate.

Current system

How this will change

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

Corporations and unions will 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) will also be banned from making donations, except for those groups affiliated with political parties.

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 will be banned from attending political fundraising events.

Many political staff will be subject to the same restriction, including staff in the Office of the Premier, all party leaders' staff, and chiefs of staff to all Cabinet ministers

(Note: This restriction will not apply to non-fundraising events or events where tickets are sold only to cover the cost of the event. It will not prevent political actors from raising funds by other means, e.g., by phone or email.)

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 will 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 will 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 allowance to political parties.

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

(Note: to be eligible for public funding, parties will 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 allowance for registered constituency associations.

Registered constituency associations in each riding would divide $25,000 per year (indexed annually), based on the proportion of votes the candidate that represented these constituency associations received in the most recent election.

(Note: to be eligible for public funding, the candidate associated with the registered constituency association must have received at least two per cent of the valid votes cast at the most recent election. The allowance will only be payable to the registered constituency association if, in the previous four years, it has completed and filed all required documents with the Chief Electoral Officer.)

No disclosure requirements for political parties about fundraisers.

Parties will be required to publicly post information about all fundraisers on their websites seven days before the fundraising event date - or three days before an event happening during an election period.

This information will include the date and location of the event, as well as 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 will 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 will be considered a political contribution.

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

 

Political Advertising

The new law will limit the potential influence of third parties both before and during 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 will be the most comprehensive in Canada.

Current system

How this will change

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

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

Ontario already has the second lowest campaign spending limit in Canada.

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

Third parties will 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 will be extended to the 60 days before a scheduled election period.

The 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 will be regulating nomination contestants and including them under rules regarding spending and contribution limits.

To give Elections Ontario time to implement this change, it will not come into effect until July 1, 2017.

Current system

How this will change

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

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

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

Individuals will 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 will 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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