Quebec’s government has introduced two bills to reform the province’s Election Act. One would reduce the limit on contributions to political parties from $1000 to $100, and increase the public subsidy to parties. The other would establish fixed election dates.
The contribution limit is part of a campaign against corruption of public officials. The bill was introduced the day after Montreal mayor Gérald Tremblay resigned amidst allegations that he was aware of kickbacks and illegal cash donations to his party, Union Montreal. Corruption was a significant issue in Quebec’s last election.
In addition to limiting political donations to $100 per person per year, Bill 2 would eliminate tax credits for political donations. Minister for democratic institutions Bernard Drainville told the Montreal Gazette that this measure means the proposed system will not cost much more than the status quo, despite a doubling of the public subsidy to political parties. The measures, he said, will increase the integrity of the system and are needed to combat a “deep cynicism” among voters.
Collecting large sums of money $100 at a time, it becomes almost impossible and for those who are fundraisers who can currently, legally, go find large donations because cheques are important, we break their influence, we throw it to the ground with a system at $100. – Bernard Drainville, Minister for democratic institutions
Drainville also said he intends to introduce a similar bill to limit donations and increase public financing to municipal parties.
CBC reports that Bill 3, the fixed election date law, would require elections to be held on the last Monday of September every four years. The next election would be September 26, 2016.
Meanwhile, Gérard Deltell of the opposition CAQ introduced a private member’s bill which proposes to both limit political contributions to $100 and to establish a spending ceiling. Under the proposed bill, parties could spend a maximum of two million dollars per year and four million dollars per general election. Independent candidates will be limited to $25,000.
Drainville told reporters he was not opposed to a ceiling on party spending and may examine it after the December break, but that the donation limit is the priority so the new tax regime can be in place January 1.