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To further enhance the confidence in our system of financing political parties, the National Assembly has unanimously adopted new rules.

In summary…

On December 6, 2012, the National Assembly of Québec adopted bill n°2, An act to amend the Election Act in order to reduce the elector contribution limit, lower the ceiling on election expenses and increase public financing of Québec political parties (2012, chapter 26). This reform of political party financing is a continuation of the one put in place in 2010 and 2011 (through bills no 113, 114, 118, and 120), in that it also aims at preventing the straw-man practice.

As first step, the new law reduces from $1,000 to $100 for the maximum allowed contribution to a provincial political party, an independent member or an authorized independent candidate. Starting from May 1, 2013, if there is a general election or a by-election, this allowed maximum is increased to $200.

To compensate for decreased revenue, public financing has been increased. Firstly, the decrease in maximum allowed contribution is adjusted by a matching mechanism through which the State enhances the first $20,000, then the following $200,000 of contributions received by a party. This mechanism is itself enhanced during an election year. Moreover, the new bill increases the public financing of parties that have already participated in an election, by increasing the base amount used for calculating the annual allowance from the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec (DGEQ). The allowance is increased again during an election year.

In order to limit the financial needs of a political party during a general election, the new Act limits to about 8 million dollars the allowed amount of election expenses that can be incurred by a party and its candidates (compared to about 11.5 million dollars under the previous provisions of the Act)

At the same time that increases to the public financing of provincial political parties, independent members and independent candidates, the tax credit granted to electors who give a contribution to these entities is abolished. (Note: this tax credit is maintained for contributions given to municipal parties and candidates, as well as party leadership candidates for campaigns in progress on January 1, 2013.)

The new rules will also apply to races for the leadership of political parties which are launched after January 1, 2013. As an example, the maximum amount allowed for a contribution to a leadership candidate will drop from $1,000 to $500.