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Show me the Money: The Use of Campaign Funds by Local Candidates

September 26, 2019 at 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Location:A602 Loeb Building

The Bell Chair in Canadian Parliamentary Democracy Presents:

Dr. Holly Ann Garnett
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Royal Military College of Canada

How are campaign funds used by local candidates? We know that funds used during election campaigns may cover a variety of expenses, from print, radio, TV or online advertising, to leadership tours, to printing, to outreach campaigns, to targeted mailings. Scholars have also speculated that the use of funds may be evolving, especially as a result of the rise of new media, but little systematic research has directly studied whether this is the case.

Using candidate expense reports published by Elections Canada, my research explores how campaign funds are spent by candidates at the riding level. It responds to the questions: What percentage of funds are allocated to categories such as: advertising (by type – print, television, radio, new media), IT services, staff, hospitality, signage etc.)? Does this vary systematically by location? In other words, are there major differences between the use of funding in rural regions compared with urban regions?

Secondly, this research considers whether the use of campaign funds has changed over time. Since 2004, social media and the use of the internet has exploded. Has this had an impact on how candidates use their campaign funds? This research will contribute to our understanding of the changing nature of expenses on electoral campaigns and the role of money in politics in Canada.


Holly Ann Garnett is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. Her research examines how electoral integrity can be strengthened throughout the electoral cycle, including the role of election management bodies, electoral assistance, voter registration, convenience voting measures, election technologies, civic literacy and campaign finance. She is a co-convener of the Electoral Management Network, and contributes to the Electoral Integrity Project. Holly Ann was an Endeavour Research Fellow at The Australian National University (2017), a visiting fellow at the Åbo Akademi, Finland (2017), a visiting researcher at the University of Sydney (2014), and a Killam Fellow at Cornell University (2009).