|You are here: Home > Features > Financing Political Parties and Election Campaigns in
Campaign and Election Finance in Canada
by Scott Fogden
July 21, 2005
It is increasingly expensive to finance mainstream political parties and
electoral campaigns. Advertising spending alone accounts for a huge proportion
of a political party’s budget, not to mention the cost of chartering
buses and planes, and orchestrating media events across Canada.
Political parties in the United States take election spending to the extreme;
during the 2004
election campaign, presidential candidates George
W. Bush and John
Kerry spent a combined $600 million just on advertising. In stark comparison,
Canada’s relatively muted mix of political partisanship and stricter
campaign financing regulations reflects a less extravagant political climate.
Nevertheless, the parties’ financial standing plays an important and
oft ignored role in the Canadian political system. Canada’s party
system is dominated by a select group of prominent parties that capture
a majority of the political contributions made by donors.
Some critics argue that the system allows special interest groups to buy influence
and access to power by supporting certain parties, thereby undermining
the democratic process. Big business, labour unions, and lobby groups have
typically been significant contributors to political parties.
This said, there are limits to how much parties can spend during an election
campaign, as well as regulations around how political parties raise funds.
Today, parties, as well as their leaders and candidates, are forced to
disclose (or make public) how much money was spent in a given campaign,
as well as where that money came from.
This feature will examine how Canada’s political parties finance their
activities and outline the party and campaign finance regulations that
govern how parties spend their money.
- Examining Canada’s past and present election expenses legislation.
- Who pays for election campaigns in Canada?
- Limiting political contributions and instituting transparency.
- International and provincial election laws.
- Regulating how Canadian political parties and campaigns are funded.