Replacing Allowances for Canada’s National Political Parties


  • Tom Flanagan University of Calgary
  • David Coletto University of Calgary



The Conservative government has repeatedly announced its desire to cancel the quarterly allowances paid by Elections Canada to political parties.  In this paper, we examine alternative party finance mechanisms to cope with the revenue loss caused by eliminating the quarterly allowances. American data suggest that introduction of a taxpayer check-off system, as proposed in the 2004 Conservative Party platform, would replace only a small fraction of the revenue lost by cancelling the allowances. Canadian data show that increasing donor limits would also have only a small positive impact. Cancelling the allowances will definitely constrain parties and may force them to limit campaign activities.


Arizona. 2008. Department of Revenue. Annual Report 2008. Phoenix.

Conservative Party of Canada. 2004. Demanding Better: Conservative Party of Canada 2004 Platform. Ottawa.

Flanagan, Tom. 2009. Harper’s Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power, 2nd ed. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Flanagan, Tom, and Harold J. Jansen. 2009. “Election Campaigns under Canada’s Party Finance Laws.” In The Canadian Federal Election of 2008, edited by Jon H. Pammett and Christopher Dornan. Toronto: Dundurn.

Goldenberg, Eddie. 2006. The Way It Works: Inside Ottawa. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Meyer, Anna N. 2008. “Public Campaign Financing: Minnesota.” Los Angeles: Center for Governmental Studies.

Milke, Mark. 2008. “What Saved the Parti Québécois in the 2008 Election: Public Money.” Backgrounder. Winnipeg: Frontier Centre for Public Policy; online at






Briefing Papers