Continuing Questions in Canadian Political Finance Law: Third Parties and Small Political Parties

  • Colin Feasby


Canadian political finance law has struggled with the question of how to treat small political parties and third parties. The author contends that data gathered by Elections Canada concerning third party expenditures over the last four federal elections provides an opportunity to re-evaluate Harper v. Canada (A.G.), which was decided without a strong evidential foundation on the grounds of a reasonable apprehension of harm. The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Longley v. Canada (A.G.) upholding Canada Elections Act provisions that require political parties to meet vote thresholds to qualify for annual allowances, raises constitutional questions about the role of small political parties. The author questions whether a distinction should be made in law between large and small political parties and whether the fear that third parties may become political parties is a sufficient justification to limit the rights of small political parties.