New Ontario poll financing rules soon; public hearings throughout summer

ELECTORALSweeping changes are being proposed in the way political parties in Ontario raise and spend money that would make the province\s electoral financing rules among the strongest in Canada.

Ontario is introducing the Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act, which includes a number of legislative measures that would, if passed, modernize the province’s election financing rules.

The proposed changes include:

  • Banning donations and loan guarantees by corporations and unions
  • Capping the amount of money third parties can spend on political advertising, and introducing strict anti-collusion measures
  • Placing new limits on the amount of money individuals can donate to a political party, candidate, constituency association, nomination contestant, and leadership contestant
  • Creating a per-vote allowance for political parties based on the number of votes they receive in the previous general election.

The Province is proposing a broad consultation process to gain feedback on the draft legislation from a wide variety of stakeholders. To facilitate this consultation, Ontario is proposing to send the legislation to committee after First Reading. This would enable the committee to examine the legislation in principle, and propose amendments that may dramatically alter its scope. The legislation will go back to committee for further input after Second Reading.

The Province is also proposing a consultation process at committee that would include presentations from the Chief Electoral Officer, the Green Party of Ontario, experts chosen by the opposition party and four weeks of public hearings across the province over the course of summer 2016.

  • Next to Québec, Ontario currently has the lowest spending limit per voter for political parties during an election period in Canada.
  • In order to have reforms in place by the next general election, the province is aiming to have Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act measures take effect on January 1, 2017.
  • Ontario also plans to move forward with a number of other legislative measures in the fall, including changing the fixed election date for the next general election to the spring of 2018, allowing provisional registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, establishing a single address authority, and integrating, simplifying and modernizing a range of election processes, on the advice of the Chief Electoral Officer. – CINEWS


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