This past Tuesday marked the coming into force of Quebec's
Bill N°2: An Act to amend the Election Act in order to
reduce the elector contribution limit, lower the ceiling on
election expenses and increase public financing of Québec
Passed by Quebec's National Assembly on December 6, 2012 by
consensus (i.e. all sitting parties supported the new provisions),
the bill introduces a number of key measures aimed at reforming
political financing in the province. The bill aims to restore
public confidence in the political financing system as Quebec has
been subject to several corruption scandals related to political
donations in recent months.
The law will apply only to provincial politics, however, Bernard
Drainville, the Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions,
has signaled another bill will follow to reform financing in
municipalities and school boards later this calendar year. The
Minister explained that with Bill N°2 Quebec will have
"one of the most rigorous and transparent electoral financing
systems in the world."
Bill N°2 will amend the Quebec Elections and Taxations
Reduce the maximum allowable contribution an elector may donate
to a political party, an independent member, or an authorized
independent candidate, per year, from $1,000 to $100. In the case
of a general election or a by‐election, an additional
contribution of $100 will be allowed, in addition to the first $100
already permitted by law.
The maximum contribution allowed in cash is reduced, from $99
to $50. This must be accompanied by a form, which is submitted
directly to Elections Quebec.
The bill will abolish the provincial tax credit for political
contributions previously in place.
Savings generated by the elimination of tax credits for
political donations will be used to increase state financing of
political parties. Subsidies for political parties will increase
from $0.85 to $ 1.50 per vote and will be linked to their share of
the popular vote in general elections.
To address the shortfall resulting from a reduced public
contribution limit, all recognized political parties will be
entitled to public funding, provided they have at least 500 members
in ten regions of Quebec and 1,000 members across the country.
Public financing will operate under a matching system, managed
by Elections Quebec. The first $20,000 raised by a political party
will be entitled to $50,000 of matching from the state (i.e. $1
raised by a political party equals $2.50 of state financing).
Beyond this first installment of $20,000, the match will be dollar
for dollar up to a maximum of $200,000. Thus, a political party
that amasses $220,000 in contributions generates total revenue of
$470,000. Under state financing they will have received a maximum
subsidy of $250,000 for the financial year. This mechanism is
doubled during an election year; therefore, a political party could
garner an additional $250,000.
Campaign spending by political parties in election campaigns is
now capped at $8 million. By comparison, during the last general
election, the parties and their candidates could have spent a total
sum of around $11.5 million dollars.
Certain definitional changes to what constitutes political
activities are introduced; so that parties may not circumvent
fundraising rules by organizing conferences, retreats, cocktails,
and other meetings or events to finance "political
activities" outside the system.
For all leadership races, donations will be collected through
the website of Elections Quebec, and the contribution limit will be
halved from $1,000 to $500 (now without tax credit).
It should be noted that the changes introduced via Bill N°2
will not affect leadership races currently underway. Present
leadership candidates will still be able to make use of the old
financing system ($1,000 donation limit which includes tax
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