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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Government & Party Finance — Finding & Evaluating

Government & Political Party Finance: Finding & Evaluating Substantive Information

The general sources for contemporary Canadian goverment and politics covered in the main portion of this guide should also be used for this topic. The following are more specialized sources or sources from the field of public finance, party and electoral financing which will provide additional information.

Finding Sources

Core Journals:

The following are some of the key journals which, in addition to the list in the main part of this guide, are likely to include articles on contemporary government finance, electoral and politiical party financing, at all levels of government:

Canadian Tax Journal. Toronto: Canadian Tax Foundation, 1953 - . Quarterly. ISSN: 0008-5111.

Description: This key journal publishes peer-reviewed articles on Canadian tax law, economics, and public finance.
Includes: Scholarly articles, book reviews, analysis, summaries and commentaries. From 2014 on has annual "Finances of the Nation" survey of provincial and territorial budgets.
Indexed in: Canadian Periodical Index, PAIS International, Index to Legal Periodicals, EconLit, ABI/Inform Global, CBCA, Index to Canadian Legal Periodical Literature, etc. Online Issues index from 1991.

Government Finance Review. Chicago: Government Finance Officers Association, 1985 - . (Formerly Governmental Finance and Government Financial Management Resources in Review). Bimonthly. ISSN: 0883-7856.

Description: The membership magazine of the Government Finance Officers Association of the U.S. and Canada publishes mostly short articles by practitioners, on the theory and practice of finance and financial management in state/provincial and local government.
Includes: Articles, commentary, opinion pieces, book reviews professional news, etc.
Indexed in: ABC Pol Sci, ABI/Inform, Business Periodicals Index, PAIS International, Business Source Premier, JSTOR, etc.

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management. Boca Raton: Emerald Publishing, 1989 - . (Formerly Public Budgeting & Financial Management). Quarterly. ISSN: 1096-3367. Online: 1945-1814.

Description: International, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal. Publishes research on budgeting, accounting, auditing, financial and performance management in entities operating in the public sphere or public-private sphere.
Includes: Research articles.
Indexed in: ProQuest Central, Scopus.

Public Budgeting & Finance. Blackwell Publishing, 1981 - . Quarterly. ISSN Print: 0275-1100. Online: 1540-5850.

Description: This cross-disciplinary journal publishes articles by researchers and practitioners on government budgeting and finance at all levels of government and in all countries.
Includes: Bibliographies and book reviews.
Indexed in: ABI/Inform Global, Academic Search Elite & Premier, Business Source, EconLit, PAIS International, ProQuest Accounting & Tax Database, Wilson Business Abstracts, etc.

Public Money & Management. Taylor & Francis, 1981 - . Up to 8 issues/yr. ISSN Print: 0954-0962. Online: 1467-9302. (Formerly Public Money.)

Description: International peer-reviewed academic journal established by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in the UK. Covers finance, policy and management issues in public services.
Includes: Bibliographies and book reviews.
Indexed in: ABI/Inform, Business Periodicals Index, CSA Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, EBSCOhost, IBSS, PAIS International, ProQuest Central, Taylor & Francis, etc.

Indexes & Databases:

Indexes and databases useful for finding articles on Canadian government and politics in general are listed in the main section of this guide. The following is a select list of indexes and databases which also cover journals on government and political finance or journals which are likely to contain research articles on these topics:

ABI/Inform Global. ProQuest .

Description: One of the largest journal databases for abstracts and full text articles from thousands of international journals and magazines covering business, economics, finance, public administration, and related topics.
Coverage: 1971 - . (Varies by title.)
Includes: Scholarly journals, professional, trade and popular magazines.
Tips: Has many useful advanced search features.

Business Source (Complete, Premier, Elite). Ebsco Publishing.

Description: The various versions of Ebsco's Business Source databases are also top contenders in the field of providing full text articles and abstracts from journals in business, finance, economics and related subjects.
Coverage: 1922 - . (Varies by title.)
Includes: Scholarly journals, professional, trade and popular magazines.

EconLit. American Economic Association.

Description: This expanded version of the Journal of Economic Literature indexes, abstracts and provides some full text articles of over 600 major international journals on economics.
Coverage: 1969 - .
Includes: Journal articles, articles and essays from collective volumes, conference proceedings, books, book reviews, theses and working papers.

ScienceDirect. Elsevier.

Description:Index and full text database of over 1700 peer-reviewed journals in the sciences, including the social sciences.
Coverage: Varies by title.
Includes: Academic journals, reporting for the most part on original research.
Tips: Searches can be limited to just journals in the social sciences, or just journals in the Economics & Finance subject category.

Books and other Academic Work:

To find books, theses, conference papers, and publications by research institutes, and other organizations, use library catalogues. Additional sources listed below.

Useful LC Subject Headings: (Name of province can be substituted for the sub-heading Canada)

finance, public — Canada
budget — Canada
budget — law and legislation — Canada

expenditures, public
fiscal policy — Canada
Canada — economic policy
Canada — appropriations and expenditures
taxation — Canada
government spending policy — Canada
campaign funds — Canada
campaign funds — law and legislation — Canada
federal-provincial fiscal relations — Canada
municipal finance — Canada
legislative auditing — Canada

Conferences Papers:

Besides the research papers published from Canadian Political Science Association conferences, some universities, research institutes and others periodically organize conferences from which the presentations are published. To find these, search your library catalogue or Voilà, the National Union Catalogue, with the appropriate subject heading and the sub-heading "congresses" (e.g. budget -- Canada -- congresses).

Canadian government-sponsored conferences include the federal-provincial and provincial-territorial conferences of Ministers of Finance, from which "public documents" are sometimes made available, departments and agencies also sponsor conferences occasionally, as can Royal Commissions and other fact-finding task forces. Some examples:
Deficits and Debt: Proceedings of the Colloquium, April 28 & 29, 1993. Ottawa: Office of the Auditor General of Canada, 1993. 59, 61 p.

Funding the Canadian City. Ed. by Enid Slack et al. Papers presented at the Municipal Tax Symposium: A National Dialogue on Funding Canada's Cities held in Toronto, Feb. 6, 2018. Sponsored by the Canadian Tax Foundation and the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto. 2019 206 p.


Many excellent theses have been written in Canadian universities on the topic of government finance and electoral and party finance. Search the Theses Canada Portal for these. Library and Archives Canada maintains a collection of every M.A. and PhD thesis written at Canadian universities. Where a link to an online thesis is not available, and for print theses, request an inter-library loan through your library.  Most universities also maintain a collection of the electronic theses written at their institution. Some are accessible through their institutional repositories.

Research Reports:

See the "Research Organizations" tab for examples of organizations that publish research on this topic.

Current Events / News:

See the websites of the government departments and research organizations involved with government and political finance and look for "What's New", press releases, media rooms, newsletters, events calendars, and contact information. You may also be able to subscribe to an emailed version of their newsletters or press releases or just get updates whenever anything new is added to their website. For example, Finance Canada and Elections Canada both provide an email mailing list to which you can subscribe. (See more examples in Primary Sources - What's Happening Now in the main part of this guide.)

Government Information:

The following are the main government departments and related agencies involved in public and political party finance. Recent research publications commissioned or authored by them may be available on their websites. Older publications can be found by entering the agency name in the author field in the Government of Canada Publications Catalogue. Or check your library catalogue, the National Union Catalogue: Voilà, or a large provincial research or legislative library.

Submissions to Committees: One of the important ways in which government bodies, research organizations, and others advise and lobby government is to submit written briefs to government committees, advising them on the impact of proposed legislation. These briefs or reports may be found as separate publications by the authoring body, or as part of the "Evidence" of parliamentary committees.

Department of Finance Canada is the federal government department responsible for creating the federal budget, monitoring and providing advice to government on the country's economic and fiscal affairs. Every province and territory in Canada also has a Finance Minister and department.

Office of the Auditor General of Canada audits government departments, agencies and Crown corporations as well as the Public Accounts of Canada. The Auditor General is appointed for 10 years and reports directly to Parliament so is actually independent of government. In 1995 the new position of Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development was created within this Office, to provide oversight of the federal government's efforts to protect the environment and foster sustainable development. Provinces and large cities also have an Auditor General.

Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer created in 2006, the PBO provides independent analysis of the state of the country's finances, cost estimates of spending plans, and since 2017 cost estimates of political party election platforms.

Elections Canada is responsible for the neutral administration of federal elections. The Chief Electoral Officer reports directly to Parliament and is independent of government. Each province and territory also has a similar office. A list, with links to their websites, is maintained by Elections Canada: Provincial and Territorial Elections Officials.

Economic Council of Canada. 1963-1993. This was a Crown corporation reporting to the Prime Minister. It was an important advisory council to federal government on economic policy for thirty years and published annual reviews of the economy and hundreds of research papers. (Note: Some more recent regional "economic councils" by that name, e.g. Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, are independent organizations with specific agendas so can be more one-sided in their analyses and policy proposals.) Examples of research publications:

Minding the Public's Business. Ottawa: Economic Council of Canada. 1986 180 p.
The Origins of Government Enterprise in Canada. By John Knubley. Ottawa: Economic Council of Canada. 1987. 181 p.


See Selected Primary Sources for examples of some key government documents.

Political Party Information:
Besides the election expenses and contributions reported by registered political parties to Elections Canada (see Selected Primary Sources - Government Publications - Department & Agency Reports), some political parties have created task forces, formed committees, or otherwise have examined either government finance, or their own party finance issues. To find any documents they may have produced search library catalogues by keyword combining the party name as author and "finance or financing or funds or fundraising", etc.

See Selected Primary Sources for selected examples.

Research Organizations:

Some research institutes and other organizations that publish on this topic:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
An independent, non-profit, non-partisan research institute founded in 1980. Best known for their annual Alternative Federal Budget, since 1994, and more recently alternative provincial budgets, they publish a bi-monthly magazine, The Monitor, and many research publications on public finance issues. Some examples:

The Art of the Impossible: Fiscal Federalism and Fiscal Balance in Canada. By Hugh Mackenzie. 2006. 57 p.
Canada's Commitment to Equality: A Gender Analysis of the Last Ten Federal Budgets (1995-2004). By Armine Yalnizyan. 2005. 117 p.
Hell and High Water: An Assessment of Paul Martin's Record and Implications for the Future. Ed. by Todd Scarth. 2004. 140 p. 
Picking up the Tab: A Complete Accounting of Federal and Provincial COVID-19 Measures in 2020. By David Macdonald. 2021. 50 p.
The Social Benefits and Economic Costs of Taxation: A Comparison of High- and Low-tax Countries. By Neil Brooks and Thaddeus Hwong. 2006. 55 p.

Canadian Tax Foundation. An independent tax research organization since 1945 that publishes extensively on government finance and the tax system in Canada. Also has a Research Centre and Non-member Catalogue of resources. Besides its core publications: Finances of the Nation, and the Canadian Tax Journal, some examples of other research published:

A Fiscal History of Canada: The Postwar Years. By J. Harvey Perry. 1989. 1058 p.
Financing the Canadian Federation, 1867-1995. By David Perry. Canadian Tax Paper no. 102, 1997. 376 p.
Municipal Revenue and Expenditure Issues in Canada. By Harry M. Kitchen. Canadian Tax Paper no. 107, 2002. 350 p.
Cumulative Index, CTF Publications, 1945 - 2000. Print. Toronto.

Green Budget Coalition. A coalition of many environmental groups. Since 2000 they have been publishing news releases, briefs, etc. on how to make the budget more environment-friendly. Best known for their annual: Recommendations for Budget (2013 to present.). Example:

Recommendations for Recovery and Budget Actions in 2020-21.  2020. 107 p.

Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). A national, independent, nonprofit research organization that publishes research reports, books, and the journals IRPP Choices and IRPP Policy Matters, with articles on many public policy issues including public finance, electoral reform, and economic, fiscal, monetary and tax policy. Some examples:

Changing Dynamics in Election Campaign Finance: Critical Issues in Canada and the United States. By Jennifer Smith and Herman Bakvis. 2000. 40 p.
Is the Debt War Over? Dispatches From Canada's Frontline. Ed. by Christopher Ragan and William Watson. 2004 365 p.
Parliament's Performance in the Budget Process: A Case Study. By Peter Dobell and Martin Ulrich. 2002 24 p.
Searching for an Alternative to the GST. By Neil Brooks. 1990. 35 p.

Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD). University of Ottawa.
Lead by former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, the IFSD is a think tank focused on public finance and policy. Launched in 2016 it is involved in teaching and research. Sample research papers:

National Pharmacare in Canada: Choosing a Path Forward. 2018. 75 p.
Role of the Parliamentary Budget Officer: Recommendations to Amend the 2017 Budget Implementation Act. 2017. 31 p.

Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto.
This institute conducts research on government finance and governing structures in Canada's large cities. They sponsor conferences and other events, have an online newsletter and their publications: articles, papers, presentations and others are available on their website. Sample publications:

Climate Finance for Canadian Cities: Is Debt Financing a Viable Alternative? By Gustavo Carvalho. 2018. 57 p.
Funding the Canadian City. By H. Evans, L. Philipps, E. Slack and L. Tedds, with Canadian Tax Foundation. 2019. 218 p.

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).
This is an inter-governmental Organization of which Canada is a member country. It works to strengthen democratic institutions and processes around the world. The "Money in Politics" section features its encyclopedic:
Funding of Political Party and Election Campaigns: A Handbook on Political Finance. 2014. 458 p.
and the
Political Finance Database.
A repository of political finance regulations from around the world.
Other publications:

The Delicate Balance Between Political Equality and Freedom of Expression: Political Party and Campaign Financing in Canada and the United States. Ed. by Steve Griner and Daniel Zovatto. Co-published with the OAS. 2005. 70 p.
Gender-Targeted Public Funding for Political Parties: A Comparative Analysis. By Magnus Ohman. 2018. 98 p.
Online Political Crowdfunding: Political Party Innovation Primer 2. 2018. 25 p.
Political Finance Reforms: How to Respond to Today's Policy Challenges? By Y. Hamada and K. Agrawal. 2020. 37 p.
Political Finance Transparency: Policy Brief. Co-published with the Open Government Partnership. 2019. 8 p.
The State of Political Finance Regulation in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. By Susan Scarrow. 2016. 22 p.

Videos and Films:

National Film Board of Canada.

The NFB online catalogue can be searched by keyword or browsed by subject.

See also Primary Sources -- Recorded Images for selected specific videos.

Evaluating Sources

Please refer to Evaluating Information in the main part of this guide.