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Analysis of Financial Trends of Regulated Federal Political Entities, 20002014


This report provides detailed information on the financial activities of regulated federal political entities and highlights the impacts of the rules governing political financing in Canada by presenting their funding, expenses and net assets based on their financial returns. It also covers matters of non-compliance related to the financial provisions of the Canada Elections Act (CEA).

This is the first report that we plan to issue for each electoral cycle, which starts at the beginning of a general election and continues until the start of the next general election. Analyzing a full electoral cycle will serve to compare data and document trends during each cycle and over time.

Political Entity Returns

The various political entity returns include annual financial returns of registered parties and registered electoral district associations (EDAs) as well as the various event-based returns – the candidate electoral campaign return, the nomination contestant return, the leadership contestant return and the registered party election expenses return. At the end of each year or after an event, as the case may be, regulated federal political entities must complete reporting requirements following a pre-determined schedule prescribed by law.

The financial data presented in this report covers the period of 2000 to 2014.Footnote 1 This illustrates the potential impacts of both the various legislative changes and the incidence of five general elections during this period, highlighting the period before and after the introduction of quarterly allowances and restrictions on contributions in 2004. The report examines the two major revenue streams of regulated federal political entities, public funding and private contributions, as well as their expenses. Data is also presented on how revenues and expenses impact the net worth of registered parties and their EDAs by measuring their net asset positions during this time frame.

The report shows that the overall net asset position of registered parties and their EDAs grew from 2004 to 2014, from $7.8 million to $81.7 million, with over half belonging to EDAs. This period also shows a widening gap between the net assets of registered parties that qualified for quarterly allowances and those that did not.

With respect to contributions, the report shows a drop during the election years after 2000, but a relatively steady level in non-election years. As well, the mix of contributions versus public funding received by regulated federal political entities between 2000 and 2014 has changed. Before 2004, when comparing contributions to public funding, contributions represented 89% of the total, while public funding was 11%; however, after 2004, contributions fell to 55% (despite the reporting of contributions to EDAs), while public funding rose to 45% of overall funding.

In regard to expenses, the report shows that regulated federal political entities incurred a total of $1.3 billion of expenses from 2004 to 2014, of which $794 million were annual expenses of registered parties and their affiliated EDAs, and $535 million were event-based (95% of which was for elections).

The report also covers regulatory incidences of non-compliance with the financial provisions of the CEA from the enactment of Bill C-24 in 2004 to 2014, by examining the number and types of non-compliance instances as well as the manner in which they are addressed, either by a referral to the Commissioner of Canada Elections or by administrative measures.

This report does not include the type of actions taken by the Commissioner of Canada Elections on referrals sent to his office. For more details on this matter, see the Commissioner's annual report.

Footnote 1 Financial data presented in this report is inflation-adjusted to the year 2014. Refer to Appendix A for the inflation factors that were applied per year.