POLITICS

Election reforms would bring big changes to campaign spending

02/04/2014 12:54 EST | Updated 04/06/2014 05:59 EDT
Some fundraising would be exempt from campaign spending limits under changes proposed by Canada's Conservative government in the election reform bill tabled today.

The change would essentially increase the amount parties can spend during federal elections, aside from a separate measure that would increase the cap for national and local campaigns by five per cent.

The measure would exempt as election expenses "the commercial value of services provided to a registered party for the purpose of soliciting — by mail, telephone or other electronic means — monetary contributions."

The exemption would apply to services soliciting donations from each person who has donated $20 or more to the party, any of its riding associations or candidates, or leadership candidates in the five years before an election.

Parties and candidates can spend thousands of dollars soliciting donations both in and out of an election campaign.

The measure isn't mentioned in the documents provided to reporters to explain the bill's proposed changes.

Warning of investigations

The act also proposes the commissioner of Elections Canada warn people who are under investigation.

"As soon as feasible after beginning an investigation, the Commissioner shall give written notice of the investigation to the person whose conduct is being investigated," the bill says.

It provides for the commissioner to decide not to notify someone who's under investigation if it could compromise the investigation or any other investigation. 

The bill also instructs the commissioner or anyone working for the commissioner not to disclose any information about an investigation, "including information that reveals or from which may be inferred ... the person whose conduct is being investigated or any witness."

The commissioner is responsible ensuring the election law is followed.