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Report of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada following the May 12, 2003, and the June 16, 2003, by-elections

Changes to political financing

Bill C-24 (S.C. 2003, c. 19), An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act (political financing), received royal assent on June 19, 2003, and most of its provisions came into force on January 1, 2004.

The Act makes fundamental changes to the provisions on political financing: it provides for the registration of the electoral district associations of registered political parties and the disclosure of sources of funding; it sets limits on political contributions; it prohibits contributions from corporations or unions, except in specific circumstances; it regulates the financing of nomination contests and leadership races of registered political parties.

It also provides for quarterly payments to registered political parties that meet certain requirements, with the payments calculated on the basis of the number of votes obtained during the previous general election.

The bill also amends the Income Tax Act to increase the maximum tax credit for political contributions from $500 to $650 and to allow registered electoral district associations to issue tax receipts if authorized by the leader of the registered party.

Preparing for the new provisions to come into force, Elections Canada produced guides, manuals, videos, software and other information tools, created a support network and developed the necessary forms, also available on the Web, to register the new entities governed by the Act and to produce their reports. We also carried out an information campaign for the public.

We consulted the Advisory Committee of Political Parties and also revised the documentation offered to parties and candidates to reflect the new provisions of the Act.