Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties – June 21–22, 2010
An overview of political financing activities was presented with respect to candidate returns for the 40th general election. As of June 14, 2010, it was stated that out of 1,602 candidates, 1,376 returns have been reviewed and their respective audits finalized, whereas 43 candidates have filed incomplete returns or have yet to file their returns. The reimbursement of election expenses to date totals $24,668,796 and candidate audit subsidies total $1,055,556.
Future initiatives and improvements were presented to members, such as the new Political Financing Audit Manual and the quality assurance program to be administered by the Internal Audit Directorate of Corporate Financing, whose results will be shared with Elections Canada's External Audit Committee.
With regard to the filing of EDA financial transactions returns for 2009, as of June 17, 2010, 925 EDAs out of a total of 1,232 had filed on time. Seventy-six percent of EDAs filing on time represents a significant improvement over the 2008 fiscal year (60%). The February/March 2010 training sessions for EDAs had a high level of satisfaction with respect to the relevance of the training (96% of attendees rated this as very good or excellent) and with the quality of the presentation (95% rating of very good or excellent).
The on-line tutorial "Understanding Fundraising and Contributions" was successfully completed, with future tutorials on "Starting an Electoral Campaign" and "Closing an Electoral Campaign" currently in development. Members were invited to provide suggestions for future seminar topics.
The Regulatory and Compliance Committee's review of the results of the 2008 survey of official and financial agents has led to a number of initiatives: reorganization of the Political Financing section of the Web site, investment in on-line tranining tools, changes stemming from the review of client correspondence, and a project to streamline and consolidate information tools, all of which will be initiated this year.
The imminent introduction of a new administrative compliance policy was announced. The purpose of the policy is to identify minor contraventions of the Act that are best addressed through education rather than formal enforcement measures. The policy will be a public document. Elections Canada is establishing a Compliance Assistance Unit within the Political Financing Sector to administer the compliance policy; carry out post-audit functions in relation to surplus disposal, loans and unpaid claims; and manage the horizontal audit function with respect to compliance verification for contributions.
Discussion with ACPP Members
Members requested clarification on the consequences of an electoral district association not filing its returns with Elections Canada.
Despite the success of the on-line tutorials, the program does not work with a dial-up connection and a request was made to see indexes put into the tutorial to move forward or backward in the tutorial more efficiently.
Mr. François Bernier explained that his Sector informed the EDAs that the option of going to court to get an extension is always available, but for those EDAs that do not take any action, a second letter is sent by which EDAs would find themselves engaged in the deregistration process and have to provide a justification for a late filing. If held to be unsatisfactory, deregistration would be mandatory.