Minister Gould’s opening speech on fundraising legislation


May 31, 2017, House of Commons Foyer

Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.

Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. It’s a pleasure to be among you.

Today I am here to talk about our government’s plan to improve openness and transparency in political fundraising. Our government believes that we can always raise the bar when it comes to openness and accountability. We believe that Canadians have a right to know even more than they do now when it comes to political fundraising.

Earlier this afternoon I had the pleasure of introducing Bill C-50 An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing) in the House of Commons, which aims to make political fundraising more open and transparent than ever before.

Canada has a lot to be proud of when it comes to our democracy. We have one of the most robust systems in the world for the financing of political entities. This includes strict spending limits, a cap on annual donations, and banning corporate and union donations. At the national level, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can contribute a maximum of $1,550 annually to a registered party. Contributions to a federal political party are reported to Elections Canada, and donations of more than $200 are published online, including the contributor’s name and address.

Though Canada already has one of the strictest systems in the world for political financing, we recognize that we can do even more to strengthen and improve our democratic institutions.

We believe it’s important for Canadians to know more when it comes to political fundraising. Canadians should know when a political fundraiser is happening, who attended and how much they contributed.  That is why Bill C-50 will require any fundraising event where more than $200 is required to attend to be advertised at least five days in advance. This will apply to the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, party leaders and leadership candidates. Political parties will also be required to report the names and addresses of those who attended the fundraiser within 30 days to Elections Canada. These events will be published online.

Democratic participation and civic engagement are critical to a healthy democracy. While we believe that we can always do more to raise the bar on transparency in political fundraising, we also respect the right of all Canadians to choose to financially support the party of their choice.

Canada’s political party system is an important institution that has contributed to our status as a model for other democracies around the world. It allows like-minded Canadians from diverse regions, social classes, religions, ethnic groups, and gender identities to work together. It brings coherence to national debates. With that said, we must remain mindful that political parties require funding to operate.

Choosing to financially support a political party is the right of all Canadians and is protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  For many, contributing to a political party and attending a fundraising event is an important form of democratic expression. It is an opportunity to exercise the right to associate freely and participate meaningfully in the democratic process. As a country that values democratic engagement, we must continue to uphold and protect this important privilege.

We believe it is important to make our already strong and robust system for political financing even more open and transparent so that Canadians can continue to have confidence in our democratic institutions.  I am proud of our government’s plan to give Canadians and the media more information than ever before about political fundraising by letting them know who is going to fundraisers, when they are happening and where, and the amount required to attend. I look forward to debating this legislation in the House of Commons.

With that I welcome your questions.

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