Municipal political financing - The transitional reform of municipal political financing comes into force today

June 21, 2013

Quebec City, June 21, 2013– The reform of municipal political financing introduced by Bill 26 is now in force. This is a transitional regime introduced in the context of the municipal general elections of November 3, 2013. The 185 municipalities with a population of 5,000 or more subject to the financing rules stipulated in Chapter XIII of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) are affected by the reform. As regards in over 900 municipalities with a population of less than 5,000 (subject to Chapter XIV of the AERM), municipal election candidates will now have to comply with new rules concerning donations.

Contributions, election expenses and donations

The Act to amend the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities in matters of financing primarily concerns municipalities with a population of 5,000 or more. Pursuant to the Act, the yearly maximum allowed contribution to each party and authorized independent candidate by an elector has been reduced from $1,000 to $300. A candidate may however contribute an additional amount of $700 to his or her own campaign, for a total contribution of $1,000. In accordance with the new legislation, the maximum allowed amount of election expenses has also been reduced by 30%; on the other hand, the legislation provides for an increase from 50% to 70% in the percentage of election expenses that can be reimbursed by the treasurer from the general fund of the municipality, in as much as the conditions of the Act are met. 

New rules concerning donations have also been introduced for municipalities with a population of less than 5,000. The ceiling for donations by a natural person to a candidate will now be $300. A candidate may however contribute an additional amount of $700 to his or her own campaign, for a total contribution of $1,000. Any donation of $100 or more must be made by cheque or other mode of payment signed by the person making the donation and drawn from the person’s own account. The payment must be made out to the candidate in question.

Offences and penalties

For municipalities subject to Chapter XIII of the Act, a new penal offence has been created, making it possible to prosecute before the Court of Québec any elector whose contribution of $100 or more is not made by cheque or other mode of payment. The legislation provides for fines of $500 to $10,000 for this new offence.

Concerning municipalities subject to Chapter XIV of the AERM, the Chief Electoral Officer may now prosecute before the Court of Québec any elector whose contribution exceeds the maximum allowed under the Act. A candidate who collects a sum of money that causes the donor to exceed the maximum of $300 permitted under the Act may be prosecuted.  This is also the case for any person who collects the said sum for the candidate in question. The legislation provides for fines of $5,000 to $20,000 for a natural person and $10,000 to $50,000 for a legal person for these new offences.

A web page outlining the reform may be consulted on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/contributions-municipales/francais/?utm_source=Site%2BCorpo&utm_medium=Visionneuse&utm_content=fr&utm_campaign=pl26

New transparency mechanism

In the context of the reform adopted by the National Assembly, the office of the Chief Electoral Officer will put in place a new transparency mechanism in accordance with which it will post on its website information concerning the financing and expenses of political parties and independent municipal candidates. As of next year, the website will post information concerning those having contributed $100 or more for all of Québec’s municipalities, with data normally updated every three months. A summary of the financial reports and election expenses of parties and authorized independent candidates will also be posted on the Chief Electoral Officer’s website.

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Categories : Municipal, Municipal financing