Our report on political financing in 2019 (Financement politique : bilan et perspectives 2019, available in French only) was tabled in the National Assembly on May 26,2020. In the area of political financing and election expenses, Élections Québec exercises an educational and enforcement role. This report therefore presents the results of these operations. It reports on our actions in 2019. It also provides a picture of provincial political funding during the same year. In addition, it presents analyzes on pre-election expenses control in the context of fixed-date general elections, on the use of parliamentary and government resources and on the intervention of third parties during the election period.
Supervision of pre-election expenses
The report provides direction in anticipation of the next fixed-date provincial election scheduled for the fall of2022. Infact, Élections Québec wants expenses incurred before the next election is called, which could influence the vote of electors, to be more transparent.
We recommend first of all amending the Election Act to require third parties (i.e., persons and organizations acting neither on behalf of a political party or a candidate) to register before making certain pre-election expenses and to report, thereafter, on their spending. This would allow us, among other things, to measure the size of such expenses. This recommendation is based on the experience of the 2018 general election, the first to be held on a fixed date.
In addition, Élections Québec will require more detailed reporting by political parties on their pre-election expenses, in order to monitor the evolution of the latter.
During the last provincial election, a number of organizations wishing to take part in the political debate questioned Élections Québec. Sensitive to the fact that information is a key factor in electoral participation, the institution wishes to better combine electors’ need for information and the dominant place that the Act grants political parties and independent candidates during election periods. To do this, it intends to clarify the application of certain rules.
So, between now and the next provincial election, our institution will present guidelines to assist citizens and organizations. It will explain, for example, how to hold debates and how to disseminate extracts from party programs without violating the Election Act. It will specify the criteria to be met in order to ensure a clear understanding and consistent application of the Act.
Last, Élections Québec wishes to consider the evolution of media-type activity on digital media, for example, podcasts or opinion columns produced by web video makers, notably, on YouTube. The Election Act guarantees freedom of the press, which is an important vehicle for our democracy, and the institution intends to make this available to non-traditional media. It will issue guidelines in this respect as we approach the next provincial election, scheduled for 2022.