Québec's municipal political parties are raising less money, posting a smaller surplus and experiencing a substantial drop in assets

September 3, 2013

Quebec City, September 3, 2013 –– The Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, Jacques Drouin, is announcing the publication today of an information and education document entitled Statistiques sur les rapports financiers des partis politiques municipaux (statistics concerning the financial reports of municipal political parties), which is available in French on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer, at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca. Among other things, it confirms that municipal political parties are raising less money, posting a smaller surplus, and experiencing a substantial drop in assets, if we compare their position in 2012 to the position in 2008, another pre-electoral year.

The Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM) stipulates that municipal political parties must file their annual financial report with the treasurer of their municipality on April 1 of each year. The Chief Electoral Officer receives copies of the reports and retrieves data, which is disclosed in the aforementioned Statistiques sur les rapports financiers des partis politiques municipaux document, including general information concerning political parties, as well as financial data for 2012. And this year there is a new twist: certain data are presented in such a way that they can be compared over a four-year period, thus making it possible to monitor changes in some revenue and expense items during a four-year electoral cycle.

Please note that the document being published today does not provide information concerning municipalities with a population of under 5,000, which are subject to Chapter XIV of the AERM.

Some data concerning municipal political parties

Of the 179 Québec municipalities subject to the rules respecting financing, a total of 82 had at least one political party at the end of last year. As of December 31, 2012, there were 118 municipal political parties in Québec. Last year, 11 new parties obtained authorization, while 31 parties requested a withdrawal of authorization, thus putting an end to their existence. As of now, there are 153 authorized municipal political parties in Québec.

Revenues of municipal political parties

In 2012, a total of 66.2% of all revenues of municipal political parties came from the municipality itself, which reimbursed a portion of election expenses and all auditing costs. In municipalities with a population of 50,000 or more, parties are also eligible to be reimbursed for research and secretarial costs pursuant to the Cities and Towns Act. It should also be pointed out that in Quebec City and Montreal, political parties are entitled to an allowance similar to the one paid to provincial political parties by the Chief Electoral Officer.

Another source of revenue for municipal political parties comes from contributions collected under the supervision of the official representative in accordance with the rules of the AERM. In 2012, contributions totaling a little over $1.1 million were collected, i.e. 28.7% of all revenues of municipal political parties. This represents a 47% decline compared to 2008, the pre-electoral year that preceded the general elections of November 2009, but an increase of 6.5 % in total contributions from 2011.

It should be noted, moreover, that the average contribution has plunged dramatically over the past five years; whereas the average contribution of over $100 to a municipal political party was $525 in 2008, it dropped to $300 in 2012.

A key goal of the reform of political party financing adopted at the end of 2010 was to reduce the cash inflows of municipal political parties. It should not be forgotten that anonymous donations are among the contributions that are absolutely forbidden, and that admission fees for political activities can no longer exceed 3% of all contributions collected without a receipt by a party in a given year. A review of the financial returns of municipal political parties shows that these cash inflows have in fact practically disappeared.

It may be recalled that the legislative framework concerning contributions was amended in 2013, and as of June 21 of this year, the maximum allowable contribution for an elector is $300, down from $1,000 prior to that date. Another municipal financing reform must be tabled after the upcoming general elections, involving more sweeping changes than those made on an interim basis in the context of this year’s municipal general elections.

Revenues, expenses and net assets

The 2012 financial reports for municipal political parties reveal that their revenues totaled nearly $4.1 million, with their expenses reaching $3.8 million. On December 31, the parties had $1.3 in total net assets. These figures are comparable to the figures for 2011. However, it is worth stressing that in 2012, a total of 22 political parties out of 149, i.e. nearly 15% of all parties, reported an accumulated deficit.

One sign of the change in financial position of municipal political parties since 2008 may be seen by comparing the excess of income (revenue) over expenditure (expenses). This surplus, which was $1.1 million in 2008, shrank to $287,000 in 2012. In the same vein, a comparison of parties’ net assets reveals that they dwindled from $3.5 million in 2008 to only $1.3 in 2012.

Statistiques sur les rapports financiers des partis politiques municipaux includes a set of tables with information concerning each municipal political party that filed a financial report in 2012, along with consolidated data by administrative region and population stratum. This document is accessible on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/francais/municipal/financement-et-depenses-electorales/rapports-financiers-municipaux.php

Categories : Municipal, Municipal financing, DGE