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Canadian Govt. & Politics: Government & Party Finance — Primary Sources

Government and Political Party Finance: Selected Primary Sources and their Finding Aids

The following are selected key primary sources and examples of the kinds of primary sources available for the study of government finance and political party financing. They supplement the general sources listed in the main parts of this guide.

What Was Said: (Quotations, speeches, interviews, hearings, in Parliament)

Budget Speeches. 1867 to the present. ParlInfo. Library of Parliament.

The Budget Speech, made by the Finance Minister in the House of Commons, outlines the government's spending priorities and financial planning for the coming year. The Budget Speech is usually given in the spring in the House of Commons, with an interim version: "Economic and Fiscal Update" in the fall. This page on the ParlInfo website lists and links to all the budget speeches, with dates given, and the Minister of Finance delivering them. Additional materials published for recent budgets are available on the Dept. of Finance website. The Budget Speech is usually delivered late in the day and all budget documents (speech, plan, highlights, etc.) are available on the Dept. of Finance site shortly afterwards, including a live video broadcast of the Minister delivering the speech in the House of Commons. Other collections of budget speeches:

POLTEXT: Canadian Budget Speeches. Has federal budget speeches in pdf or word format, from 1958 to present.

POLTEXT: Provincial Budget Speeches. Has speeches in pdf or word format, from the 1960s or 70s to present.

Debates in Parliament.

Both the Budget Speech and the debate on it are published in the Debates. The number of days allowed for debate on the budget has varied over the years, currently limited to four, and they do not have to be consecutive. Debate usually begins on the day following the Budget Speech, with an opposition member, usually the finance critic, giving a speech and moving an amendment to the budget. During the Budget Speech the Minister may table "Ways and Means" motions to allow the government to impose new taxes, increase existing ones, or to allow for implementing new measures from the budget. These motions get voted on later in the House of Commons and if adopted become Ways and Means bills. Use LEGISinfo to find major speeches from all parties in the House of Commons on ways and means bills introduced since 2001. Use the Index to the Debates, or online "Publication Search Tool" to find debates on specific issues. Another option is to search:

LiPaD, Linked Parliamentary Data, a searchable collection of House of Commons Debates from 1901 to the present, digitized and maintained by the University of Toronto.

Estimates Hearings, Pre-Budget Consultations and Other Budget-Related Committee Hearings.

As each committee in the House of Commons considers the Estimates provided by departments and agencies related to the committee's mandate, and the Budget as a whole, in the case of the Finance Committee, they may call "witnesses" from the department to answer questions or explain certain aspects in more detail, they may also hear statements from professionals and members of the public. The statements, questions and answers are usually available as part of the Committee Evidence, as are the statements made when the Finance Committee holds pre-budget consultation hearings with the public. Pre-budget consultations may include televised hearings across the country.

Speeches, Statements, Press Releases by federal and provincial Finance Ministers, Auditors General, Electoral Officers, etc.

All federal government department and agency websites have a section for the Ministers' speeches and statements, and for the department or agency's press releases which often report on the Minister making announcements or speeches. The official Government of Canada website also has a combined News page that allows you to search for speeches and statements by topic, keyword, and department: Search library catalogues for years predating the material available on websites. See Finding & Evaluating - Government Information for links to the key websites for this topic.

See also Recorded Images for interviews and speeches on film and tape.

What Was Written:

Political Party Publications | Government Publications | Law and Court Reports 

Political Party Publications: (Campaign literature, special collections)

Besides the financial reports that registered political parties must provide to Elections Canada (See under "Government Department and Agency Reports" below), public documents on political parties' financing issues are rare. Here is a sampling; more recent versions may be obtained directly from the parties:

Constituency Fundraising Manual. Liberal Party of Canada. Ottawa: Liberal Party of Canada, 1982. 35 p.
Report of the Leadership Expenses Committee. By Margo Brousseau and Dan Hays. Ottawa: Liberal Party of Canada, 1990. 1 vol.
Guide to Direct Canvass Fundraising. Liberal Party of Canada. 1980. 16 p.

Besides the opposition parties' budget and economic policy-related remarks in Parliament, written statements on government finance issues may be found in political party media releases or in election platforms during the run-up to elections. Some examples of published documents:

Mandate for Change: The Alberta Liberal Plan for Legislative and Budgetary Reform. By Laurence Decore. Edmonton: The Party, 1993. 15 p.
Tax Reform: A Liberal Approach. Liberal Party of Canada, 1987. 23 p.
The Taxpayers' Budget: The Reform Party's Plan to Balance the Federal Budget and Provide Social and Economic Security for the 21st Century. Calgary: The Reform Party, 1995. 57 p.

Election Platforms or "Electronic Manifestos" of Canada's major federal political parties can be searched online in the POLTEXT digital collection by the Université Laval. Also here is a collection of Provincial Party Platforms.Some are available from the 1940s to the present. The 2019 Federal Green Party Platform included a separate 22-page "Costing" document.

Political Party Publications | Government Publications | Law and Court Reports
Government Publications: (Royal Commission reports, task force reports, government department and agency reports, policy papers, Parliamentary documents, law and court reports)

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry and Related Reports:

Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. Pierre Lortie, Chair.
Reforming Electoral Democracy: Final Report. Ottawa: The Commission, 1991. 4 vols.
Research Papers. Ottawa: The Commission, 1991. 7 vols.
Research Studies. Toronto: Dundurn Press, The Commission, & Canada Communication Group-Publishing, Supply and Services Canada, 1989. 23 vols.

This important Royal Commission, with its extensive research and consultations, is a treasure-trove of information on party financing and related issues. Information published includes the 4-volume Final Report, 7 volumes of Research Papers, 23 volumes of Research Studies, summaries of Public Hearings, and Briefs submitted to the Commission. The 23 Research Studies series includes titles such as: Vol. 1: Money in Politics: Financing Federal Parties and Candidates in Canada. by W. T. Stanbury. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1991. 732 p., Vol. 3: Provincial Party and Election Finance in Canada. ed. by F. Leslie Seidle. Dundurn Press, 1991. 208 p., Vol. 4: Comparative Issues in Party and Election Finance. ed. by F. Leslie Siedle. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1991. 262 p., Vol. 5: Issues in Party and Election Finance in Canada. ed. by F. Leslie Seidle. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1991. 410 p.

Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities. Justice John Gomery, Commissioner. Website archived by Library and Archives Canada, 2006.
Phase I Reports: "Who is Responsible?" 2005: Summary, 80 p., Fact Finding Report, 686 p., Forensic Audit, 287 p.
Phase II Reports: "Restoring Accountability" 2006: Recommendations, 245 p. and 3 volumes of "Research Studies": Vol 1: Parliament, Ministers and Deputy Ministers. 338 p., Vol. 2: The Public Service and Transparency. 340 p., Vol. 3: Linkages, Responsibilities and Accountabilities. 338 p.

In 2004, this Commission was asked to investigate and report on questions raised by the Nov. 2003 Auditor General's Report that revealed mismanagement of public funds and to recommend to government how to prevent this from happening in future. The three Research Studies volumes contain the text of 17 research studies commissioned by Justice Gomery.

Royal Commission on Taxation. K. Le M. Carter, Chair. Report. Ottawa: Queen's Printer, 1966-67. 7 vols.

Included several recommended changes to the federal tax system to make it more fair and efficient but these were strongly opposed.

Royal Commission on the Economic Union and Development Prospects for Canada. Donald Macdonald, Chair. Report. Ottawa: The Commission, 1985. 3 vols.

Also published: Preliminary Report, Summary of the Conclusions and Recommendations, Report Highlights, and Collected Research Series, published with University of Toronto Press. Examples:
Bureaucracy in Canada: Control and Reform. By Sharon Sutherland and Bruce Doern. No. 43, 1985. 230 p.
Federal and Provincial Budgeting. By Alan Maslove, Michael Prince and Bruce Doern. No. 41, 1983. 262 p.

Royal Commission on Financial Management and Accountability. Allen Thomas Lambert, Chair. Final Report. Ottawa: The Commission, 1979. 586 p.

Recommended increasing financial accountability. Also published: Progress Report in 1977.

Nova Scotia Royal Commission on Election Expenses and Associated Matters. M. G. Green, Chair. Report. Middleton, NS: The Commission, 1969. 1 vol.

Ontario Fair Tax Commission. Monica Townson, Chair. Fair Taxation in a Changing World: Report of the Ontario Fair Tax Commission. Toronto: U. of Toronto Press and the Commission, 1993. 1,114 p.

This Commission made 138 recommendations on ways to increase fairness of the tax system for all Ontario taxpayers. They established many working groups on specific issues which also reported, for example: Environment and Taxation: Final Report of the Environment and Taxation Working Group, Ontario Fair Tax Commission. Beth Savan and Paul Emond, Co-Chairs. Toronto: Ontario Fair Tax Commission, 1992. 56 p. The Report, Highlights, Background Studies and Working Group Reports have all been digitized and are available here:

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Task Force Reports:

Achieving a National Purpose: Improving Territorial Formula Financing and Strengthening Canada's Territories. Final Report of the Expert Panel on Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing. Al O'Brien, Chair. Submitted to Min. of Finance. Ottawa: The Panel, 2006. 147 p.
Report of the Advisory Committee to Study Curtailment of Election Expenditures. Alphonse Barbeau, Chair. (Report to the Committee on Election Expenses.) Ottawa: R. Duhamel, Queen's Printer, 1966. 528 p.
Report of the Expert Panel for the Children's Fitness Tax Credit. Dr. Kelly Leitch, Chair. Ottawa: Department of Finance, 2006. 42 p.
Report of the Tri-Level Task Force on Public Finance. Ottawa: Min. of Supply and Services, 1976. 4 vols.
A Review of Campaign Financing by Third Parties and Independent Candidates in Municipal Elections. City of Vancouver Independent Election Task Force. June 2019. 57 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Government Department and Agency Reports:

Federal departments, agencies, and Crown corporations must report annually on their budget estimates, plans and priorities, and their actual performance. Since 2003 they must also report on the travel and hospitality expenses of their senior staff, contracts over $10,000 and reclassified positions. Beginning with the 2011-12 fiscal year, they must also make public quarterly financial reports. Every three years, since 1997, they have also been required to prepare a sustainable development strategy. For access to recent and current years of these reports, see these pages on the Government of Canada ( website: Planned Government Spending and  Government Spending and Government-wide Reporting on Spending and Operations.

See also:

GC InfoBase. Combines government spending and related data from several sources (e.g. Public Accounts, Estimates, departmental plans and results reports, transfer payments to provinces and regions, federal government employee numbers and demographics) and allows you to create your own tables to make comparisons or view changes over time.

The following are the main departments and agencies responsible for producing information on the budget, government finance, and political party financing, and the major reports and publications they provide:

Auditor General of Canada.

The Office of the Auditor General was established in the 1800's. Its mandate was significantly broadened in 1977 from not just examining and reporting on the accuracy of the government's financial statements but also to reporting on the effectiveness of how government policies are implemented, exposing waste and mismanagement of public funds. Some key documents:

Report of the Auditor General. (Report to the House of Commons, or to Parliament.) Title varies. Print: 1879 - . Online: 1975 - . Annual fall report and a spring report. (In these reports the AG makes observations on the government's financial statements, annual audits of departments and agencies, any special audits, and provides follow-up on issues raised in previous reports. Many of these are hundreds of pages long.) After 1994, up to three additional reports could be added per year. NOTE: The OAG website has reports from 2014 to present. Earlier years digitized are available through the Government of Canada Publications catalogue: 1999-2014: 
1975-1998:  and a digitized collection of provincial AG reports in:


Status Report of the Auditor General. Print and online: 2002 - . Reports on the government's progress in addressing recommendations from past audits.

Audit Reports . (On individual programs, e.g. Report 7: Fossil Fuel Subsidy, 2017; Government-Wide Audit of Sponsorship, Advertising, and Public Opinion Research, 2003. 1 vol.)

Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Reports. Print and online: 1997 - . Established in 1995, the Commissioner monitors the government's progress in meeting their environment and sustainable development strategies.

Department of Finance Canada.

The Department of Finance, created in 1867, is responsible for preparing the annual budget and related information. It analyzes the economy and helps the government form its economic, fiscal and taxation policies. Some key documents:

Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada. Report on budgetary revenues, total expenses, federal debt, comparison of budget outcomes to estimates, and condensed financial statements. Links to Fiscal Reference Tables with annual data on the financial position of the federal, provincial/territorial and local governments.

Budget. The federal budget lays out the government's spending plans and priorities for the coming year. Available on this page: Federal Budgets since 1968. Also sometimes published: Mini-budgets, interim budgets, the budget "in brief", budget plan, highlights, individual booklets on specific aspects of the budget, and the budget speech.
Archived Budget Documents from 1968 to present:

Debt Management Report and Debt Management Strategy. The Report describes the government's federal debt management program and how it has functioned over the last year. The Strategy describes the debt management plan for the coming fiscal year.

Economic and Fiscal Update. Usually tabled in the fall starting the pre-budget consultation process, this report provides an annual update on the government's fiscal situation and the national economy. The projections made in it form the basis for pre-budget policy discussions. Available on this page: 1995 to present.

Elections Canada. Political Financing:

Elections Canada is an independent body, reporting directly to Parliament, responsible for the neutral administration of elections and enforcing electoral legislation. Among election financing duties, they are responsible for disclosing to the public contributions made to registered political parties, third parties, district associations, candidates, leadership and nomination contestants of registered parties, and for examining and disclosing their financial returns, and reimbursing their election expenses. Some key documents:

Contributions and Expenses Database. Provides access to campaign contributions and expenses of candidates in an election, leadership and nomination contestants, and the financial returns of registered electoral district associations and political parties.

Registered Party Financial Transactions Returns. (Title varies: "Registered Political Parties' Fiscal Period Returns", etc.) Print: 1974 - . Online: 1993 - . Annual. (Quarterly reports online 2005 - .) These reports show the contributions received and expenditures made by each registered political party.

Other information available from this "Political Financing" page includes contribution and spending limits, legislation related to electoral financing, third party advertising reports, more specific statistical tables and reports showing parties' financial statements, expenses by party, expense category and election, etc.

Parliamentary Budget Officer.

Independent of government, the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) was created in 2006 to provide Parliament with independent analysis of the state of Canada's economy and of the government's finances. On request, the PBO also provides estimates of the cost of any federal program proposals. Starting in 2019, in the months before a general election, upon request from a political party or Member of Parliament,  the PBO provides an estimate of the cost of election campaign proposals.

2019 Election Proposal Costing: PBO Estimates.

Fiscal Sustainability Report 2020. The annual Fiscal Sustainability Report has the PBO's assessment of the sustainability of government finances over the long term for the federal government, provincial and territorial governments, and public pension plans. Supplementary data and sources provided in separate files.

Other Reports and Legislative Costing Notes.

Receiver General of Canada.

The federal government's central Treasurer and Accountant, responsible for preparing the Public Accounts of Canada which include the annual audited financial statements of the government.

Public Accounts of Canada. Print: 1867/68 - . Online: 1995 - . Annual. This report shows in some detail how public funds have been spent in the previous year. Since 2004 published in 3 volumes: I: Summary Report and Financial Statements, II: Details of Expenses and Revenues, III: Additional Information and Analysis.

Treasury Board of Canada.

Among other things, the Treasury Board and Treasury Board Secretariat are responsible for reviewing government expenditures, and promoting efficiency in government spending. They screen and approve each government department's annual budget. Key documents are:

The Estimates. Print: 1867 - . Online: 1996/97 - . Annual. The Estimates are tabled in Parliament to show the government's plans for spending public funds. The Estimates are made up of 3 parts:
Part I: The Government Expenditure Plan provides an overview of government spending in total and by broad policy areas,
Part II: The Main Estimates outline detailed expenditures by department, agency and program including items proposed for approval by Parliament,
Part III: Departmental Expenditure Plans are made up of two types of reports from each individual department and agency: 1: Reports on Plans and Priorities: expenditure plans for each department and agency (not Crown corporations) with details on their activities, strategic outcomes and resource requirements for the next three years, and 2: Departmental Performance Reports: each department and agency's report of the results achieved in the previous year.

Supplementary Estimates. These are submitted during the fiscal year to get Parliamentary approval for additional spending.

Canada's Performance. Print: 1995 - . (Title varies.) Online: 2001 - . (Tabled by the Treasury Board President, this report provides an overview of the state of government and its progress in achieving its goals, based on the combined departmental performance reports for the previous year.)

Proactive Disclosure. Online: 2003 - . This page combines the mandated reports from each department and agency on travel and hospitality expenses of its senior staff, Ministers' office expenses, contracts over $10,000, reclassification of positions, etc..

Archival Records of these federal departments and agencies can be found at the Library and Archives Canada. Use the Collections Search.

Provincial/Territorial and Municipal Equivalents. Each province and territory has a Finance Minister, Receiver General and Elections Office with similar documents produced: Budgets, Public Accounts, Election Finance reports, etc. The provinces (and some large cities) also have an Auditor General. (Note: The Auditor General of Canada reports on the Territories as well as the federal government.) See Finding & Evaluating for tips on finding the documents they published. Municipal budget statistics are published annually by the provincial department responsible for local government. These reports are usually called "Municipal Statistics" or "Annual Report of Municipal Statistics". Annual financial reports will also be produced by towns and cities, e.g Annual Report of the Commissioner of Finance. Toronto: Treasury Dept., 1920's - .

Research Reports are also produced or commissioned by government departments, agencies, and government-funded bodies. Some examples:

Findings from Focus Group Research: Views on Government Spending: A Report to Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. By The Strategic Counsel. Ottawa: TBS, 2006. 96 p.

Political Financing and the Control of Election Expenses in Québec: Past and Present. By Francine Bordeleau. Sainte-Foy, QC: Directeur général des élections du Québec, [2003]. 76 p.

Review of Canadian Federal Fiscal Processes and Systems. By Tim O'Neill. Ottawa: O'Neill Strategic Economics, 2005. 165 p. (Commissioned by the Min. of Finance to examine the federal government's fiscal forecasting accuracy.)

What About Women? Gender Analysis of Discussion Paper on New Brunswick's Tax System. By Kathleen Lahey. Report commissioned by the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women, 2008. 45 p.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Policy Papers:

Besides the budget itself, government's most important policy statement, others are occasionally published on finance issues. For example:

Towards Replacing the Goods and Services Tax. Ottawa: Dept. of Finance Canada, 1996. 95 p.

White Paper on Election Law Reform. By Ray Hnatyshn. Tabled in the House of Commons June 26, 1986. Sessional Paper 331-4/153.

This paper was part of the process that led to the formation of the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing.

Proposals for Tax Reform. By E.J. Benson, Minister of Finance. Ottawa: Dept. of Finance, 1969. 96 p.

Commonly referred to as the "White Paper on Tax Reform", it presented the government's proposals for reforming the income tax structure ahead of discussions with the public and the provincial governments.

Tax Reform 1987: The White Paper. By Michael Wilson. Ottawa: Dept. of Finance Canada, 1987, 86 p.

This has also been treated as the Minister's budget speech.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports
Parliamentary Documents:

Committee Reports: Standing parliamentary committees exist on important topics of ongoing concern such as the environment, aboriginal affairs, finance, etc. They are independent of the related ministries and include members of both the governing party and others. Their studies and reports can be very useful research material.

There have been several Standing Committees in both the House of Commons and Senate concerned with government finance issues. Committee websites on the Parliamentary Internet site include information on the committee, its members, meeting schedule, contact information, its studies, reports, news releases, a list of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, and the transcripts of the meetings, called "Evidence". You can also sign up for email notification of any new committee information to appear on the site.

Key Finance-Related House of Commons Standing Committees:

Finance Committee. This committee's main purpose is to hold the government to account on public finance issues; it considers and reports on the government's budgetary policies. Its members, elected MPs, represent the public in this work. The committee holds pre-budget consultations, examines the budget after it is tabled, and examines the Estimates of the Finance Department and the Canada Revenue Agency. More on the committee's mandate.
Public Accounts Committee. Reviews and reports on the Public Accounts of Canada and the Auditor General's reports.
Government Operations and Estimates Committee.  Created to provide more scrutiny of government operations. Although each standing committee is assigned to review the Estimates of the departments with related areas of interest, this committee reviews the expenditure plans (Estimates) of all departments, agencies, commissions, Crown corporations, programs, and private foundations that receive majority federal funding. Sample reports: Meaningful Scrutiny: Practical Improvements to the Estimates Process. Sept. 2003. 50,54 p., Improving Transparency and Parliamentary Oversight of the Government's Spending Plans. 2019, 90 p.
Procedure and House Affairs Committee.  Responsibilities include matters relating to electoral legislation. Sample report: The Business of Supply: Completing the Circle of Control. 64th Report, 1997.
Liaison Committee (Not a standing committee, but permanent) Allocates funds to House standing committees.

Key Finance-Related Senate Standing Committees:

National Finance. ("Committee on Finance" 1919-1967) Examines the Auditor General's report, Estimates and spending bills.
Banking, Trade and Commerce. Since 1867 reviews legislation on financial institutions, budgetary and commercial matters: taxation, customs and excise, etc.
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. Considers the internal financial matters of the Senate: committee budgets, sets spending guidelines and policies etc.

Sub-committees may exist to examine specific issues and Special Committees can be created at any time as well. For example: Special Committee on Election Expenses, 1970-71, and the Special Committee on Electoral Reform, 1992-93 (to review the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing). Check the House of Commons and Senate Journals and Debates Indexes for the time period relevant to your research to see if any other parliamentary committees examined public finance or political finance issues at that time.

NOTE: Advocacy groups, individuals and government bodies can submit briefs to committees informing them of the impact of proposed legislation or commenting on the issue under study. These may be found as part of the committee Evidence, on the group's or committee's website, or in library catalogues by authoring body.

Members' Expenditure Reports. Annual. Online: 2001 - . Includes Member of Parliament salaries, travel and hospitality expenditures, and contracts over $10,000. 

Bills. "Ways and Means" bills are based on the budget speech and give the government authority to bring in a new tax or increase an existing one. "Appropriation" or "Supply" bills are based on the Estimates as adopted by the House, authorizing the government to pay the amounts set out in the Estimates for the purposes specified. See LEGISinfo for details on these and other bills introduced since 2001.

Other Parliamentary Documents: Use the Finding & Evaluating Government Information and Selected Primary Sources sections of the main part of this guide for tips on searching the Debates, Parliamentary Journals, etc. to find other documents, and the  "What was Said" tab above, for tips on finding budget-related speeches, debates and hearings.

Royal Commission Reports | Task Force Reports | Government Department and Agency Reports | Policy Papers | Parliamentary Documents | Law and Court Reports

Law & Legislation and Court Reports:

Justice Laws Website. Department of Justice Canada. This is the official site for Canada's laws. Laws dealing with government finance, electoral and political financing are available here. Collections of the relevant legislation may also be available on the websites of the government departments and agencies involved. For example:

Elections Canada: Legislation. This section of the Elections Canada website has the federal election legislation and recent changes, referendum legislation, major legal cases, and more.

Compendium of Election Administration in Canada. Elections Canada, for the Conference of Canadian Election Officials. 1999 - . A comprehensive report of Canadian federal and provincial/territorial election legislation. (Chapter on election financing summarizes the rules in each province on contributions, election expenses, disclosure, reimbursement of expenses, allowances, tax deductions for contributions, election advertising, broadcasting time, and restrictions on opinion polls.)

Dept. of Finance Canada Laws, Regulations and Ministerial Orders. This page on the Dept. of Finance site links to draft legislation in the works (bills, ways and means motions, draft regulations, explanatory notes, etc.), current legislation, Acts and amended Acts from previous sessions of Parliament.

Legislative Summaries of relevant bills are available from the Library of Parliament for most major bills. Current ones (2001 to present) are listed by date on the Library of Parliament Research Publications page. They can also be searched by subject or keyword. Note: titles begin with: "Bill"... E.g. Bill C-2: The Federal Accountability Act. LS-522E, 2006. 80 p. Legislative Summaries of bills from previous Parliaments back to 2001 are also accessible through LEGISinfo. Earlier ones can be found by searching Library and Archives Canada's library catalogue: Aurora. Some digitized summaries from 1997 to the present also available through the Government of Canada Publications Catalogue.

Political Finance Database.

By the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), this database is a repository of political finance regulations in over 180 countries, including Canada. It is searchable by country, region/political entity, or by over 60 specific issues or "research questions" on regulations related to bans or limits on private income, public funding, spending, reporting of financial information, oversight and sanctions.

The Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court and provincial courts all hear cases related to finance issues. See Selected Primary Sources in the main part of this guide for details on how to access some of these decisions.

Tax Court of Canada.

Established in 1983, the TCC is a superior court, independent of any government department, to which individuals and companies can appeal on disagreements with the federal government regarding income tax, GST, EI, and customs issues among others. Decisions of the court are available online from 1997 on, searchable by date, citation, case name and relevant Act. The hearing schedule is also available for sites across the country. A short video for appellants who represent themselves: "Your Day in Court" explains the process.

Personal Papers:


Gordon, Walter. A Political Memoir. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1977. 395 p. (Minister of Finance in Pearson government and Liberal Party strategist.)
Henderson, Maxwell. Plain Talk: Memoirs of an Auditor-General. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1984. 357 p. (A-G for 13 years during Diefenbaker, Pearson & Trudeau years.)


James Johnson Macdonell Fonds. National Archives. (Includes diary and other personal papers of this Auditor General of Canada 1973-1980, and his related work.)

Walter Lockhart Gordon Fonds. National Archives. (Personal papers include correspondence, notes, speeches, drafts of his memoirs, etc. covering 1948-1986 from his political career as Finance Minister among other things.)

See also the Library and Archives Canada Collection Search page to see the descriptions of these and other unpublished collections.

Recorded Images (Film and video footage, photographs, cartoons):

Film, video footage:

Tax: The Outcome of Income. Dir. by Veronika Soul. Montreal : National Film Board of Canada, 1975. 1 film (8 min. 54 sec.)

A montage of animated photographs and drawings superimposed on film footage showing the evolution of Canada's federal and provincial tax system since Confederation.

Underground Royal Commission: Days of Reckoning and Secrets in High Places. Toronto: Stornoway Productions, 1996. 2 videos/DVDs (approx. 2 hrs. each)

A citizens' inquiry into how we are governed, these documentary films, part of the underground royal commission series of 16 books and 14 hours of video, focus on the federal debt and government spending. They include interviews of politicians, bureaucrats and others. (Companion books published by Breakout Educational Network and Dundurn Press: "Days of Reckoning", 2002, "Secrets in High Places", 2002, and "On the Money Trail", 2003.)

Photographs and Cartoons:

Office of the Auditor General Collection. Library and Archives Canada.

A collection of 76 original editorial cartoons on the Auditor General Kenneth Dye, his annual reports, government spending, and taxes, during his years in office 1981-1991, by all the top cartoonists and many more.

Many of the Library and Archives' political collections contain editorial cartoons and photographs relating to Finance Ministers, government spending, taxes, budgets, etc. Search by combining your keyword for the topic or the Finance Minister's name with "cartoon". For photographs enter your search, then limit the results to material type: "photographic material". Use the Collections Search and limit to "Images" to find digitized art (including cartoons) and photographic images.

See Primary Sources - Recorded Images in the main part of this guide for tips on finding more photos, political cartoons, etc.

What Is Happening Now (in political parties and government, contacting people, getting involved):
Besides all the generic tools to keep up to date with political party and government information, to find contact information and to get involved (covered in the main part of this guide), the following are selected sources and resources specific to government and political party finance, organized by whether they are created by a political party, a government body or other organizations such as advocacy groups:

Political Parties:

Each of the major political parties' websites cover economic and government finance issues to some extent. The finance critic in the opposition parties should be especially active in providing the party's views, either in blogs, the party website, or other media. (Note: A list of the Current Opposition Party Critics with their areas of responsibility and contact information is available on the Parliamentary website.)

The registered federal parties must file their financial statements with Elections Canada and these are available at the Elections Canada website shortly after filed (see "What was Written - Government Dept. and Agency Reports" above) and most provinces have similar legislation. For current information on party finances and what's happening with party fundraising, contact the riding association or party headquarters. Contact information for registered federal parties is available on the Elections Canada website.


The budget documents, Estimates, Auditor General Reports and their equivalents in provincial and municipal governments allow MPs and the public to see what the government is doing and whether it is working as it should be. These documents are accessible to the public on the websites of each department and agency to enhance accountability, but do nothing if no one reads them. Read, ask questions, get involved...

Budgets are a government's most important policy statement. Consider contributing, as an individual or group, to pre-budget consultations, whether municipal, provincial or federal. If you cannot do so directly, assist or help inform those who are.

Dept. of Finance, Elections Canada, Auditor General, etc. Links to their websites are in the Finding & Evaluating portion of this guide.

Read the "What's New" sections for information on the latest issues. Some departments have a newsletter that you can subscribe to and receive by email and most also allow you to subscribe to receive new additions to the website by email (e.g. Auditor General, Dept. of Finance). Contact information is always given (Elections Canada includes contact information for provincial election officials as well). Current public consultations underway are usually announced on the websites, with many options for responding. Federal departments now link to a joint Consultations page: Consulting with Canadians.

Federal Government News. Government of Canada.

This section of the Government of Canada website provides access to RSS news feeds, news releases,media advisories, readouts, etc. by organization, region or audience, minister, topic, etc. You can sign up to receive these by RSS news feed or Twitter. (For email distribution lists, see the relevant department website).

Advocacy, Interest Groups, etc.: Every interest group, social policy organization, professional association or collection of individuals has an interest in the budget decisions of governments. Besides the research organizations listed in the Finding Information section, the following are some of the most active advocacy groups that allow you to learn more about the issues, and get involved:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

An important independent, non-profit, non-partisan research institute since 1980. It has a national office and five provincial offices, which provide a lot of up-to-date information on current social and economic issues in a variety of formats including short commentaries, videos, a bi-monthly journal: The Monitor, and detailed research reports.

Democracy Watch.

Since 1993, this Canada-wide coalition of over 50 citizen groups works to make governments and corporations more accountable to the public. Through various campaigns (e.g. Money in Politics Campaign) it advocates for a democratic political finance system in Canada, open government, voter rights, etc. The website provides articles, news releases, action alerts, etc.

Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

A nonprofit organization since 1976, PIAC advocates on behalf of consumer interests, particularly concerning the provision of public services. It fights for fairness, consumer protection and the public interest in the regulation of important public services and utilities.