Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Tories’ elections shakeup to include raise in party-donation limit

Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre will unveil a bill Tuesday that would end the chief electoral officer’s influence over investigating alleged violations of elections law and make the task of policing these matters a wholly independent post.

GRAHAM HUGHES/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Conservative government is increasing the maximum that Canadians can donate to federal political parties, as public subsidies based on election results disappear.

The increase – described by government sources as "modest" – gives a greater advantage to parties with strong fundraising skills. The Conservatives lead in this regard but the Liberals have been closing the gap.

At the same time, the Harper government is introducing legislation to dramatically shake up the structure of Elections Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre will unveil a bill Tuesday that would end the Chief Electoral Officer's influence over investigating alleged violations of elections law and make the task of policing these matters a wholly independent post.

This shakeup at Elections Canada would completely separate the task of running elections and enforcing elections law. The Chief Electoral Officer is currently empowered to appoint the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the official responsible for investigating and prosecuting Elections Act breaches.

The government is also expected to take action on the practice of "vouching" during balloting – the process by which an elector with authorized identification can "vouch" for the identity of another voter who lacks sufficient identification. Sources say changes will be aimed at protecting the accuracy and integrity of the system.

The Tories have had a fractious relationship with Elections Canada over the years. Conservatives have frequently been at odds with the watchdog and Tory MPs are unhappy with the Chief Electoral Officer having influence over both the administration of elections and policing of elections law. Tories privately say they believe the Chief Electoral Officer, currently Marc Mayrand, has too much power over the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

It won't be clear until Mr. Poilievre's announcement how the government intends to set up the elections.

Sources say the changes will have no impact on current Elections Canada investigations and will not grant the elected government in Ottawa any influence over probes of alleged violations.

The individual donation limit is currently $1,200. The Conservative government has already passed a bill to end per-vote public subsidies that were introduced by former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien. They are set to be phased out shortly.

Story continues below advertisement

The 2013 fundraising results for major political parties show the Liberals have managed to gain ground on the front-runner Conservatives. The NDP remains in third place.

The electoral reform bill was originally slated to go ahead last April but it was held because Tory MPs felt it needed more work.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.