The New Election Financing Act
The new Election Financing Act (EFA) was proclaimed into law on February 21, 2013. There are three key components to the new legislation:
- A plain language re-write of the legislation to make it more accessible to the reader
- The appointment of an allowance commissioner to determine the annual allowance to registered parties
- Provisions governing third parties during an election period
To read the complete text of the Act, click here.
To create a more readable EFA, the following changes have been made:
- Simpler language and sentence structure
- Act divided into parts, each corresponding to a particular topic, with an overview of each topic
- Definitions are now at the end instead of the beginning
- Boxed information direct readers to related sections of the Act
- Fewer cross-references make the Act easier to understand
Note: This section of the Act came into force June 14, 2012
Under the new EFA, a commissioner is appointed within three months of the Bill's coming into force, and then within six months of each subsequent General Election to determine the annual allowance.
The Commissioner may consider any relevant factors when making his/her decision on the amount of the allowance, including expenses incurred and number of votes received. The Commissioner may also consult with interested individuals and groups. A decision must be made and reported to the Speaker within three months of the Commissioner's appointment.
The Bill has no provision for a minimum or maximum amount of the annual allowance. Registered parties are no longer required to apply for the allowance.
Dr. Paul Thomas was appointed on November 9, 2012, and he has now submitted his report to the Legislative Assembly.
Click here to view the regulations concerning the amount of the annual allowance for 2012. The deadline for registered parties to file their annual returns for 2012 is March 31, 2013.
Third party legislation imposes a limit on the amount of money an individual or group (other than a registered party, candidate or constituency association) can spend on election communication to promote or oppose a candidate or registered party during an election.
Under the legislation, a third party must not spend more than $5,000 on election communication and must identify itself in those communications. Once a third party spends $500 on election communication, it must register with Elections Manitoba and appoint a financial agent. Registration may take place only after an election has been called.
A third party that has incurred election communication expenses of $500 or more must file an election communciation report with the CEO.
"Election communication" is defined as any form of advertising and promotional material that promotes or opposes a party during an election period. Certain types of communication are excluded from this definition:
- Communication made to gain support for an issue of public policy, or to advance the goals of the third party, as long as it is not in support or opposition to a political entity
- Direct transmission by person or group to its members
- A debate, editorial, column, letter or news item published without charge
Elections Manitoba has issued guidelines to assist third parties in determining what constitutes an election communication. Click here to view them.