Elections Canada

Elections Canada

January 02, 2007 17:42 ET

Chief Electoral Officer Announces Election Financing Changes Brought in by Federal Accountability Act

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 2, 2007) - The Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, announced today that Elections Canada is prepared to implement election financing changes resulting from the passage of Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act. The Act received royal assent on December 12, 2006.

The new legislation reduces annual contribution limits to political entities. Furthermore, only individuals (Canadian citizens or permanent residents) may now make political donations. In addition, candidates are prohibited from accepting any gift or other advantage that might appear to have been given to influence them in the performance of their duties if elected to the House of Commons. Candidates must make a confidential report to the Chief Electoral Officer after each election on any gifts received.

Under the new legislation, the responsibility for appointing (and dismissing) returning officers now rests with the Chief Electoral Officer rather than the Governor in Council. In addition, the responsibility for prosecuting offences under the Canada Elections Act is transferred from the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the new Director of Public Prosecutions. Finally, the Access to Information Act is expanded to cover the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer.

Some provisions of the Federal Accountability Act came into force at royal assent and others on January 1, 2007, others will come into effect six months after royal assent, and still others will come into force on a date yet to be fixed by the Governor in Council.

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act that came into effect on January 1, 2007

- New, lower limits on the annual contributions individuals may make to registered parties, their candidates, nomination contestants and registered associations, and to leadership contestants and independent candidates

As of January 1, 2007, the new limits are:

- No more than $1,100 in any calendar year to each registered political party

- No more than $1,100 in any calendar year to the various entities of each registered political party (registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates)

- No more than $1,100 to the leadership contestant or the leadership contestants of their choice in a particular leadership contest

- No more than $1,100 to each independent candidate for a particular election

These limits are indexed on April 1 of each year.

- Only individuals who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents can give a contribution to registered parties, candidates, nomination contestants, registered associations and leadership contestants

- A ban on contributions by corporations, trade unions and unincorporated associations to registered parties, candidates, nomination contestants, registered associations and leadership contestants

- Prohibition on cash donations of more than $20

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act that came into effect on royal assent

- Extension of the period for instituting prosecutions under the Canada Elections Act to 10 years after the day on which the offence was committed (but not later than 5 years after the Commissioner of Canada Elections becomes aware of the facts giving rise to the prosecution)

- Transfer to the Director of Public Prosecutions of the responsibility for the prosecution of offences under the Canada Elections Act; the Commissioner of Canada Elections will continue to be responsible for investigations and compliance agreements, for applying to the courts for injunctions during election periods and for the deregistration of registered parties in specified circumstances

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act that will come into effect on a date determined by the Governor in Council

- Transfer of the authority to appoint and dismiss returning officers from the Governor in Council to the Chief Electoral Officer

Amendments to the Canada Elections Act that will come into effect six months after royal assent

- Registered parties and registered associations prohibited from transferring trust funds to a candidate

- Candidates required to report to the Chief Electoral Officer any gifts they receive that total more than $500 from one person or entity

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

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