Provincial political party financing - The Chief Electoral Officer prescribes new standards for financial reports filed by political parties

QUEBEC, April 30, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - For the purpose of making the financing and expenses of provincial political parties in Québec more transparent and uniform, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec has prescribed a standardized addition to the information required in their annual financial reports. Henceforth, it will be easier to know where funding for political parties and their authorities comes from and how their financial resources are used. The financial reports will now clearly show, for example, what portion of financing comes from public funding and will give a clearer understanding of how a party has used its funds. Moreover, the way financial information is reported will be standardized for all parties.

The new standards are in effect for the reports that must be filed today at the latest by the nineteen authorized provincial political parties at December 31, 2014.

Public funding of provincial political parties

The political financing reforms enacted in 2010 by the National Assembly have resulted in the State being the main source of funding for provincial political parties in Québec. The allowable maximum contribution amount, which was $3,000 before the 2010 reforms, was lowered to $100 on January 1, 2013. To compensate for the decrease in financing from elector contributions, public funding was increased in 2010 and again in 2013. The budget allocated among the parties in the form of an annual allowance paid by the Chief Electoral Officer has, in fact, tripled (from $0.50 to $1.50 per elector), and through a new matching mechanism, parties can see the contributions they have raised boosted by up to $250,000 per year. An additional allowance and additional matched revenue are also provided for general elections, as was the case in 2014.

Moreover, pursuant to the Election Act, the Chief Electoral Officer reimburses 50% of a party's or candidate's eligible election expenses, under certain conditions. In addition, and in some situations, political parties may be reimbursed 50% of the GST and QST included in their expenses.

As a result of all these changes and the mechanisms already in place under the Election Act, the public funding portion of political party financing has increased in three years from about 25% to 75%. For fiscal year 2014 (an election year), the Chief Electoral Officer contributed a total of $25.6 million in funding to the provincial political parties.

More detail and clearer financial information

It has, therefore, become even more important to the Chief Electoral Officer that political parties be able to provide a clear picture of how they use the public funding they receive. This information should also be easily comparable among the parties. The parties' financial information is made public by means of an annual financial report. The Chief Electoral Officer is now asking more of the political parties in the form of an improved financial report providing more details and making it easier to compare the financial situation of the parties. In addition to financial statements audited by a professional accountant (independent auditor), the financial report will now include a new appendix containing financial data and serving as a reference for financing sources and how funds are used.

Tables included in the appendix of the financial report will present detailed information on the sources of a party's financing and how it has been used. The percentage of total financing for the party and its authorities, where applicable, coming from public funding will be specified, and election-related activities will be shown separately from a party's regular activities. The data will clearly show any income surplus or shortfall in relation to expenses.

The official representative of a party is required to certify that such information is true, accurate and complete.

One of the advantages of the reference section is that it will provide a clear picture of a party's financial dealings with its riding authorities and regional authorities. To date, there are 365 political party authorities in Québec associated with five of the 19 authorized parties. It will, henceforth, be possible to know what the financial resources of party authorities are, how the authorities have used these resources and what transfers of funds have taken place between the authorities and the party.

The new appendix for each of the financial reports will be available on the Chief Electoral Officer website at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.


 

SOURCE Directeur général des élections

For further information: Denis Dion, Information Officer, (418) 644-3320 or 1 888-870-3320, ddion@DGEQ.qc.ca

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