MANITOBA INTRODUCES CHANGES TO ELECTION FINANCING ACT
Changes proposed to The Election Financing Amendment Act would modernize election financing rules based on the principles of fairness, transparency and consistency, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“Manitobans expect updated and fair treatment for individual contribution levels and clear and appropriate rules for election-related spending by candidates, political parties and advocacy groups,” said Stefanson. “These changes reflect our commitment to ensure the overall integrity of the election finance system is not only maintained but improved."
There are currently no limits on third-party pre-election communication spending and a $5,000 limit during an election period. This legislation would introduce new limits on third-party spending for recognized election communications, as follows:
$25,000 during the election period, and
$100,000 during the 90-day period before a fixed-date election begins.
In addition, the current $5,000 limit on third-party spending for recognized election communications during a byelection would be maintained.
The legislation would also move individual contribution levels from the current $3,000 per year to a new limit of $5,000 per year, and would index the new limit to inflation. The current limits have been in place since 2000 and would be updated in order to better align Manitoba with the limits set in other provinces. The minister noted the changes would maintain a cap on contribution limits unlike the several Canadian provinces which do not have limits; Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Manitoba would also retain the existing restrictions that permit contributions to be made solely by individuals and would hold the position of third lowest individual contribution limit amongst provinces.
“Our government is pursuing a made-in-Manitoba approach to election financing rules that would modernize our province's approach, bring us in line with other Canadian jurisdictions where appropriate, and maintain our ongoing focus on individual contributions while keeping Manitoba limits near the lowest in the country,” said Stefanson. “In addition, changes to the rules around election spending would ensure transparency, consistency and balance.”
Other proposed changes would:
reduce permissible cash contribution levels to $25 from $100;
require all expenses, including political party conferences, conventions and leadership conventions, to count towards individual contribution limits. Currently, some costs associated with political party conferences and conferences are exempted from counting towards individual contribution limits;
focus advertising limits on pure advertising expenses for both political parties and third parties;
create consistency around the treatment of voluntary labour so that all volunteers are treated the same by eliminating any deemed contributions. Currently, only voluntary labour provided by self-employed persons is a deemed contribution; and
establish that overall spending and advertising limits, which are confirmed by the chief electoral officer when the election writ is first issued, are minimum levels to eliminate potential confusion.