Former Research Project Officer, Elections Canada
The results presented here are based on the mail-back component of the survey
in the 1997 Canadian Election Study. The sample size is 1 848 and the margin
of error is approximately 2.3 percent. The approximate margins of error for
the provincial/regional samples are as follows: Atlantic Canada, 7.5 percent;
Quebec, 4.6 percent; Ontario,
To determine the degree to which Canadians support limits on candidate and political party expenditures, survey respondents were asked: Do you think political parties and candidates should be allowed to spend as much as they want in an election campaign or should there be a limit on what they can spend? The results demonstrate strong support for limits on party and candidate spending; 93.8 percent responded that there should be a limit, 4.3 percent indicated that there should be no limit, and 1.9 percent were not sure. There are no major differences by region.
To assess public attitudes toward the participation and spending of third party electoral participants, survey respondents were asked: Which comes closer to your own view: "only political parties and candidates should be allowed to advertise during election campaigns" or "advertising by other individuals and groups should also be allowed during election campaigns"? In response, 35 percent indicated that only political parties and candidates should be allowed to advertise during election campaigns; 50.1 percent responded that advertising by other individuals and groups should also be allowed; and 14.9 percent were not sure. The results by region follow.
Residents of Quebec are the least supportive of allowing interest groups to participate in election campaigns
Respondents were also asked: If individuals and groups other than candidates and political parties are going to advertise during election campaigns, should there be a limit on what they can spend? Overall, 82.7 percent answered yes, 10.7 percent answered no, and 6.6 percent were not sure. The results by region follow.
To obtain a sense of the type of spending limit that Canadians would consider fair, respondents were asked: Suppose individuals and groups can advertise, should they be allowed to spend: "less than candidates", "the same as candidates", or "more than candidates"? In response, 48.1 percent indicated that third parties should be allowed to spend "the same as candidates"; 31 percent responded "less than candidates";
These results are consistent with those of a study conducted for the Royal
Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. According to that study,
when faced with the choice of having spending limits for all participants, including
third parties, or limits for none, 90 percent of Canadians opted for controls
(Blais and Gidengil, RCERPF research volume 17, 1991:
The opinions expressed are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.