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Bill C-2, the Federal Accountability Act (FAA) was introduced in Parliament on April 11, 2006. The Bill received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006.
The new law makes significant changes to various statutes including the Lobbyist Registration Act and the Canada Elections Act.
The new law imposes a complete ban of any corporate or union contributions to federal Parties at any level, eliminating the existing exception that allowed corporations and unions to donate up to $1,000 to political parties at the local riding level. At the same time, the maximum contribution allowable by individuals will also be lowered. Under the previous rules, the contribution limit for individuals who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada would have risen in 2007 to $5,400 in total each year to each political party that is registered with Elections Canada. Included in this figure are contributions to a party's candidates, nomination contestants and registered electoral district associations. Under the new rules, such donations are limited to $1,000 for individual donations to each registered party, as well as a further $1,000 that can be donated to a party's candidates or electoral district associations. The result of this reform is to lower the effective amount that an individual can contribute to a party from $5,400 to $2,000, while ensuring that the money is disbursed among all levels of the party.
In addition to its impact on political financing activities, the FAA makes several changes to the Lobbyists Registration Act, including a change of name. The Lobbying Act, as it will now be known, will have a scope that remains generally unchanged relative to the pre-amendment Act. For example, any communication with a federal public office holder will continue to be considered lobbying and gives rise to a registration requirement if it relates to the activities outlined in the Lobbying Act. Examples of registrable activities include communications with respect to the development of a federal legislative proposal, the introduction or amendment of a federal Bill or resolution, and the making or amending of any federal regulation, policy or program.
Measures aimed at ensuring more transparent government spending and forecasting are envisioned by the new FAA. A Procurement Officer will be established to assess government procurement practices on an ongoing basis, to review complaints concerning the administration of contracts for goods and services, and to manage an alternative dispute resolution program where disputes over contracts arise. Contracts for public opinion research, advertising and polling will face specific restrictions, and will now need to result in written reports for release to the public within six months.
The new FAA further empowers those charged with holding the government accountable for its actions. To this end, the powers of the Auditor General will be expanded, and auditing and accountability within each individual government department will be enhanced. For example, Deputy Ministers will be designated as the accounting officers of their respective departments, and will be held accountable before parliamentary committees to ensure the existence of effective systems of internal control, and that procedures are aligned with government policies.Cyrus Reporter.
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