Author Archives: Clayton

“Elections BC confirms municipal political parties can take corporate and union donations”

As reported on today:

Municipal political parties can’t take corporate and union donations for the purpose of election campaigns, but they can take them to pay for operational purposes.

If the intention of the municipal election finance laws are to prohibit corporate and union donations from influencing elections, this is a fundamental flaw with the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act (British Columbia). Any union or corporate that wants to contribute to a municipal political party can do so, just by making the provision that the funds go to operational expenses, which political parties need just as much as funds for campaign expenses.

Keep an eye out to see if this matter is addressed in a future amendment to the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act.


“Ethics loophole keeps Aga Khan’s gifts to Trudeau family secret”

As reported by Elizabeth Thompson and Katie Simpson on this morning (, Prime Minister Trudeau’s office has been told that it does not have to publicly disclose the gifts that he received from the Aga Khan as the gifts were received in violation of the Conflict of Interest Act. Only acceptable gifts are listed in the public registry, and as the illegal gifts received by the Prime Minister were addressed (but not disclosed) in an investigation under the Act, there is no legal requirement for the Prime Ministers’ office to disclose what the illegal gifts he received were.

“Brexit: Electoral Commission reopens probe into Vote Leave”

From the UK here is an interesting matter involving election finance limits from the Brexit referendum:

Was the paying of the bills of a third party in accordance with the rules, or did it result in the Leave campaign exceeding the spending limits?

That will be up to the Electoral Commission to decide and then surely for the courts to adjudicate. An interesting set of facts that provides insight into just how much money is involved in elections and the steps that political actors take to spend as much money as possible without running afoul of the election finance laws that seek to limit their influence.

Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Strikes Down $1000 Deposit Requirement for Federal Election Candidates

Good news for independent candidates!

On October 25, 2017, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta struck down the provision of the Election Act that required candidates in federal elections to provide a $1,000 deposit.

The judge ruled that the deposit requirement was in breach of section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which provides that: “Every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of members of the House of Commons or of a legislative assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.”

In declaring the deposit requirement unconstitutional, the judge wrote that the $1000 deposit requirement deprived otherwise serious but financially challenged candidates from presenting or communicating their ideas and opinions to the general public.

As a result of this decision, Elections Canada announced that it would no longer require prospective candidates to provide the $1000 deposit:

The decision is from Szuchewycz v Canada (Attorney General), which is available here:

Ethics Commissioner Investigating Federal Health Minister Over Luxury Car Service with Liberal Party Ties

Peter Zimonjic of the CBC reports that the federal Health Minister is being investigated by the Ethics Commissioner over whether she violated section 7 of the Conflict of Interest Act by incurring over $7000 in expenses using a luxury car service owned by someone who campaigned for her during the 2015 federal election:

According to section 7, “No public office holder shall, in the exercise of an official power, duty or function, give preferential treatment to any person or organization based on the identity of the person or organization that represents the first-mentioned person or organization.”

In response to a request by Conservative MP Collin Carrie to investigate the federal Health Minister, the Ethics Commissioner wrote back stating that she has begun an investigation to determine whether the Minister contravened section 7 of the Act.

Pursuant to section 44 of the Act, the Commissioner will now investigate the matter, and make public a report setting out the facts in question as well as the Commissioner’s analysis and conclusions in relation to the investigation.

Green Party Sanctioned for Distributing Misleading Polling Data

CBC reports on a compliance agreement entered into on July 22nd by the Green Party of Canada:

In the compliance agreement the Party acknowledged that:

  • deliberate use of unreliable polling data intended for internal use, which use did not meet the informational requirements of the Elections Act—as well as the erroneous presentation of the polling data as being the latest results when subsequent polling data was trending down—was misleading; and
  • It constituted an attempt to induce a person to vote or not to vote for a particular candidate using a pretence or contrivance, and as such, an offence under paragraph 482(b) of the Act.

Here is the notice of the compliance agreement from the Commissioner’s website:

Another reminder of the importance of political parties retaining legal counsel during elections and working closely with them to ensure compliance with the Elections Act!

“Company owned by former B.C. government director pleads guilty to Elections Act violation”

CBC reports on a company that has pleaded guilty to one count of making an unreported political contribution in connection with providing

“Partisan interests difficult to avoid in electoral reform debate”

Éric Grenier explores the politics of electoral system reform:

One aspect of the reporting on the preferential ballot that continues to be pushed by journalists and pollsters is the idea that you can somehow accurately predict how the system would work in the future based on past elections. This is an exercise in speculation, and I take issue when it is passed off as any kind of reliable scientific prediction of how this electoral system works.

The above article refers to an earlier analysis that predicts what the result of the 2015 federal election would have been under a preferential ballot system, based on polling of peoples’ second choices.

The flaw with this analysis is that it misses the fundamental point that if you change the rules of the game, it will be played differently by political parties. When you change to a preferential ballot system, political parties and campaigns will change too. Parties and candidates will continue to try to win, but the path to victory will be different under different rules.

Trying to predict the results of elections under a different system is no more than speculation, and it should be recognized as such. This article is both an exploration and an example of how politics is difficult to separate from electoral systems

“Electoral reform: a primer”

CBC News sets out a very brief summary of some of the alternatives that will be studied by the Parliamentary committee looking into electoral reform:

The “benefits” and “drawbacks” descriptions are unfortunately very lazily done. If journalists are going to explore the strengths and weaknesses of electoral systems it deserves much more detail and evidence than a couple summary statements or quotes lifted from supporters or opponents of particular systems. Better to not have added this at all and leave the serious policy analysis to those who do it justice.