Analysis of Financial Trends of Regulated Federal Political Entities, 2000–2014
3. Private Funding – Contributions Footnote 11
This section examines contributions received by all regulated federal political entitiesFootnote 12 from 2000 to 2014, the number of contributors and the total amount of contributions, as well as contributions received by each regulated federal political entity and by registered parties and their affiliated entities.
a) Overall private funding (contributions), 2000 to 2014
A significant regulatory change in the period covered by this report is the introduction of limits on contributions enacted in Bill C-24, which came into force in 2004, followed by further restrictions enacted in Bill C-2, which came into force in 2007.
As well, from 2000 to 2014, there were five general elections (2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2011). The general election in 2000 was not impacted by contribution limits. The 2004 and 2006 general elections were impacted by the contribution limits set in Bill C-24, and the elections of 2008 and 2011 were impacted by Bill C-2.
Contributions to regulated federal political entities during election years in the time period showed a drop after the 2000 general election. During the 2000 election year, regulated federal political entities received $124.8 million of contributions. For the election years of 2004 and 2006, after Bill C-24 came into force, the average contributions per election year dropped by 38% to $77.0 million. After Bill C-2, there was a further drop of 4% in average contributions per election year to $74.3 million for 2008 and 2011.
Following 2004, the overall amount of contributions in non-election years remained high. The annual average contributions received by regulated federal political entities for non-election years after Bill C-24 was enacted (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014) was $52.9 million, compared to $49.3 million in the non-election years before the introduction of Bill C-24 (2001, 2002 and 2003). This represents a 7% increase, despite the introduction of contribution limits and restrictions of contributor eligibility.
It is difficult to isolate the impact of legislation that introduced contribution limits and contributor eligibility. Prior to Bill C-24, contributions to EDAs, nomination contestants and leadership contestants were not reported. Other factors that may have affected contribution funding would include the increase of the political contribution tax credit in 2004 as well as improved methods of fundraising between elections. There was also a succession of minority governments from 2004 to 2011, which put registered parties in a permanent state of fundraising in anticipation of the next general election, but it also should be noted that contributions were up in non-election years during majority governments. Subject to these caveats, contributions on average are 13% higher in the years 2012 to 2014, after the passage of Bill C-24 and Bill C-2, when compared to the years 2001 to 2003.
b) Number of contributors and the amounts contributed by dollar range
The provisions of Bills C-24 and C-2 were intended in part to moderate the potential for undue influence of money in the political process. Before there were any limits put on contributions, from 2000 to 2003, the vast majority of contributors (87%) gave $200 or less per year. However, donations from these contributors represented 21% of dollars received. In this time frame, 2% of contributors gave over $1,200; these contributors gave 54% of dollars received. Thus, more than half of all contribution dollars came from a small percentage of donors.
From 2004 to 2006, there is a change: while 79% of all contributors gave $200 or less, their share of contribution dollars jumped to 32% of total dollars received. On the other hand, 1% of contributors in this time frame gave more than $1,200, and these contributors' total share fell to 17% of dollars received.
After 2006, there is a further change. Contributors who gave $200 or less dropped to 78%; however, the share of total dollars received rose to 35%. While the number of contributors who gave more than $1,200 was less than 1%, the dollars received from these contributors represented only 1% of the total.Footnote 13
c) Contributions to the various regulated federal political entities
Bill C-24 introduced EDAs, nomination contestants and leadership contestants into the regulatory regime. From 2000 to 2003, registered parties received 81% of all contribution dollars, while candidates received 19%. After Bill C-24, from 2004 to 2014, contribution dollars received by registered parties decreased to 62% and by candidates to 12%. In this time frame, EDAs received 22% and the remaining 4% was attributed to leadership and nomination contestants.
In this regard, the new regulatory structure may have affected how contributions flow into the system. For instance, prior to Bill C-24, registered parties would often designate a registered agent to EDAs for the purpose of issuing tax receipts. Such contributions would then be reported as contributions to the registered party. Since Bill C-24, EDAs may now issue tax receipts for contributions they receive.
d) Contributions received by registered parties and their affiliated entities
Contributions to registered parties and their affiliated entities follow the same trends as previously described. Dollars received peaked during the 2000 general election year and subsequently declined in the election years of 2004 and 2006 after the passage of Bill C-24, with a further drop in the election years of 2008 and 2011 after the passage of Bill C-2. However, despite this general decline, both the Conservative Party's and Green Party's contributions grew in the election years of 2008 and 2011 when compared to the election years of 2004 and 2006. In the years between elections, contributions had been higher after 2004 compared to the non-election years before 2004. This is due mainly to an increase in contributions received by the Conservative PartyFootnote 14 and Green Party in the non-election years after 2004.
From 2004 to 2014, the Conservative Party received almost half (47%) of all contributions made to registered parties and all their affiliated entities. In the same time period, the Liberal Party received 30%, the NDP 15%, the Bloc Québécois 3%, the Green Party 3%, and all other parties (including independent candidates) 2%.
Return to source of Footnote 11 Contributions include both monetary and non-monetary donations.
Return to source of Footnote 12 From 2000 to 2003, regulated federal political entities were registered parties and candidates only. In 2004, the scope of the CEA was expanded to include the regulation of EDAs, nomination contestants and leadership contestants. When the report refers to regulated federal political entities after 2003, it means registered parties, candidates, EDAs, nomination contestants and leadership contestants.
Return to source of Footnote 13 It should be noted that not all contributions over $1,200 are non-compliant. After 2006, testamentary contributions over $1,200 represent 0.5% of total contributions, while 0.1% is related to candidates, nomination contestants or leadership contestants who contributed over $1,200 to their own campaign. The remaining 0.4% is composed of non-compliant contributions.
Return to source of Footnote 14 The increase is measured by comparing the contributions of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance, the Progressive Conservative Party and the Conservative Party in non-election years before 2004 to the contributions of the Conservative Party in non-election years after 2003.