Queen's Park Monitor: January 3, 2017

New Fundraising Rules

Ontario’s new fundraising rules came into effect on Monday and below is a breakdown of the various changes. Bill 2, Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, 2016, will have a significant impact on political fundraising in the province with changes to contribution limits, fundraising events, per-vote subsidies, political advertising and spending limits.

What the bill prohibits:

  1. Corporate and union donations
  2. MPP’s, a leader of a registered party, leaders office staff, ministerial chief of staffs , Premiers  office staff, nomination contestant, candidate or leadership contestant from attending fundraising events
  3. Paid volunteers
  4. Group donations
  5. Coordination on advertising
  6. Advertising on an issue associated with the position of a registered party or candidate
  7. Government Advertising is banned for the 60 day pre-writ period

What the bill changes

Candidates and nominations

  1. Expands the list of regulated participants in the electoral process to cover people who are seeking nomination as a candidate of a registered political party, they will be subject to limits on contributions and spending as well as to reporting and audit requirements
  2. The rules for people seeking to be leader of a party are amended to change the time at which a person is deemed to be such a candidate – any time he or she accepts contributions or incurs expenses, after a vacancy has arisen – and requires registration at that time.

Contributions

  1. Individuals are allowed to give a maximum of $3,600 to each party when there is an election and a maximum of $2,400 in a non-election year. How these donations are allocated is described in points 4-7.
  2. The standard maximum annual contribution, effective in 2017 and subject to annual indexation, is $1,200 to each party. The election contribution period to political parties is eliminated. This means that in 2018 a person cannot max out their contribution outside of the writ period and again during the writ (May 11 to June 7, 2018).
  3. People may also give a total of $1,200 to any nomination candidates and/or constituency associations of each party annually.
  4. People may give a total of $1,200 to official candidates in an election period to each party. This can be on top of the $1,200 to the same nomination candidate or constituency association of each party outside of the election.
  5. The same dollar limit ($1,200) applies to contributions to independent candidates in total.
  6. Each contestant for the leadership of a registered party may receive a maximum of $1,200 annually. This includes during registration and during the official leadership contest if it’s within the same year.
  7. A candidate may contribute up to $5,000 of personal funds to his or her own campaign, and a leadership contestant up to $25,000. Unlike the other limits, these figures are not subject to annual adjustment for inflation.
  8. 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.

Fundraising Events

  1. Fund-raising event is defined as “ an event held for the purpose of raising funds for the party, constituency association, nomination contestant, candidate or leadership contestant registered under this act  by whom or on whose behalf the event is held, and where a charge by the sale of tickets or otherwise is made for attendance.”
  2. Must be posted online a week prior to the event, with the date, location and amount being charged for the event and must ID the recipient(s) of the funds.
  3. During the writ period, an event must be posted within 3 days.
  4. Income must be reported to the CEO by the CFO of the party, constituency association, nomination contestant, candidate or leadership contestant.
  5. Any goods or services offered for sale at a fund-raising event is considered a contribution.
  6. Any profit made by an at-cost event will be paid forward to elections Ontario.

Real time disclosure

  1. Chief Electoral Officer will now publish contribution records online within 2 days instead of 10.

Loan Guarantees

  1. Loan guarantees must be paid back within two years. Loan guarantees are treated as contributions and may be made only by financial institutions or persons entitled to make contributions.

Per-vote Subsidy

  1. Parties would receive public funding of $2.71 for every vote received in the previous general election; this amount would be reduced over the next five years after which it will be reviewed.
  2. 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 to be eligible for the per-vote subsidy. The amounts are to be calculated and paid quarterly.
  3. The Per-vote subsidy will decreases slightly each year thereafter to 75 percent of its 2017 level in 2021. The allowance rules are to be reviewed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council before the end of 2021.

Constituency Association Allowance

  1. Each party’s constituency association in a riding will receive an allowance which is calculated on the percentage of the total number of votes their candidate received in the election.
  2. Each electoral district will receive a $25,000 vote subsidy which will be distributed to each parties riding association based on the number of votes their candidate received in the last election and payment to the riding associations will be given out on a quarterly basis.

Political Advertising

  1. Political advertising by political parties is limited to one million dollars in the six months before a scheduled general election campaign begins.
  2. Third party advertising is limited to $100,000 across the province, including a maximum of $4,000 per electoral district, during election campaigns. In the six months leading up to the formal campaign period, they may spend six times those amounts. The pre-election-period limits do not apply to a general election not held according to the fixed dates in the Election Act.

Spending limits

  1. Nomination contestants are limited to spending 20 percent of the amount allowed for a candidate in the previous election in the same constituency.
  2. Expense Reimbursements are made available to candidates who receive 10%of the votes cast in the electoral district, a reduction from the current minimum of 15%.
  3. Nomination contestants are made eligible for auditor subsidies paid by the CEO for audit expenses. A nomination contestant is required to have an Auditor if the contestant raise or spends at least $10,000 in the nomination contest.
  4. The contribution and spending limits are generally subject to indexation for inflation. The indexation is now to be put on an annual basis, according to the Consumer Price Index for Ontario.