How to become a candidate
This is an overview of the steps you must take if you are planning to be a candidate in a federal election.
All prospective candidates are required to meet all of the criteria set out in the Canada Elections Act (the Act). Please be sure to read and understand the rules for being a candidate in Part 6 of the Act. There is also important information regarding the nomination process and criteria for being a candidate in the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155).
The basic requirements for becoming a candidate are the following:
- You must be a Canadian citizen.
- You must be at least 18 years old on election day.
- You must file a Nomination Paper (EC 20010) with the returning officer for the electoral district (riding) where you intend to run, along with all other documents required by the nomination process.
The right to run in a federal election is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The relevant procedures and responsibilities of candidates are set out in Part 6 of the Act.
Unless specifically declared to be ineligible under section 65 of the Act, any person qualified as an elector may run for election. To stand for office, you must be a Canadian citizen aged 18 or older on election day. You may seek election in only one electoral district at a time; however, you do not need to reside in the district.
Running as a candidate – as an independent or endorsed by a political party
A prospective candidate must first choose whether they will run as either an independent or as a representative of a political party. If you want to be an official representative of a political party, you must be officially endorsed by that party. For more information on this procedure, which varies from party to party, contact the party that you hope will endorse you.
In either case, you must file a nomination paper and other necessary documents with the returning officer for the electoral district where you intend to run. You can download the nomination paper from our website or obtain it from your returning officer.
Appointing an official agent and auditor
Whether you have been endorsed by a party or have chosen to run as an independent, you must appoint an official agent before a contribution is accepted or an electoral campaign expense is incurred. Section 477.2 of the Act defines who is ineligible to act as an official agent. The official agent must sign the declaration in the nomination paper.
You must also appoint an auditor who is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services (i.e. the auditor must be a CPA, CA, CGA or CMA). Subsection 477.3(2) of the Act defines who is ineligible to act as an auditor. As part of the nomination process, your auditor must provide a signed statement consenting to act in that capacity.
Consent to a nomination and the role of witnesses
You must sign the statement of your consent to the nomination (Part 2 of the nomination paper) in the presence of a witness, who will also sign the form. This witness to your consent must be a qualified elector. This person will also submit your completed nomination paper to the returning officer for the electoral district where you intend to run.
You must provide the names, addresses and signatures of at least 100 electors who are qualified to vote in the electoral district where you intend to run and who consent to your candidacy.
Note: In the case of the larger or remote electoral districts listed in Schedule 3 of the Act, the required minimum number of signatures is 50. This list is reviewed following the redistribution of electoral districts and comes into force at the call of a general election.
The signatures of electors consenting to your candidacy must also be witnessed. The witness or witnesses to these signatures are not required to be qualified electors. All signatures on individual pages must be witnessed by the same person.
How to file the nomination paper
The witness to your consent to the nomination must submit the nomination paper, the deposit and all related documents to the returning officer. This must be done between the time the returning officer publishes the Notice of Election and the time nominations close, which is 2:00 p.m. local time on Monday, the 21st day before election day.
If your witness is unable to submit the nomination paper at the local returning office, you have the option under subsection 70(3) of the Act of making other arrangements with the returning officer to file by the close of nominations.
You can file the nomination paper and necessary documents with the returning officer by electronic means as long as the returning officer receives:
- the electronic documents and candidate's deposit by the close of nominations, and
- the original documents no later than 48 hours after the close of nominations (2:00 p.m. local time on Wednesday, the 19th day before election day).
Please note that Part 4 – Oath of Witness to Consent of Candidate does not have to be completed if the nomination paper is sent by electronic means.
After filing electronically, if you would be unable to file the original nomination documents before the deadline, the returning officer may authorize a person to receive those documents at a designated place under subsection 70(3) of the Act.
In addition to the completed nomination paper, the following items must be filed with the returning officer:
- A statement signed by the auditor consenting to act in that capacity.
- A deposit of $1,000. Consult the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) to learn what has to be done to receive a refund of the deposit.
- A letter of endorsement signed by the leader of the party (or, in a general election, by their designated representative). This applies only if you are endorsed by a political party and wish to have the party's name appear under your name on the ballot.
Confirmation of candidacy by the returning officer
After receiving a nomination paper, the returning officer has 48 hours to review it and, in particular, to confirm that the electors supporting the candidate's nomination reside in that electoral district. As soon as the verification is completed, the returning officer will provide a copy of Part 6 – Notice of Confirmation or Refusal of Nomination to the prospective candidate.
Tips for ensuring a smooth process
To ensure a smooth and quick nomination process, Elections Canada encourages prospective candidates to take the following precautions when preparing their nomination paper:
- File as early as possible, so there is sufficient time to correct the nomination paper if the returning officer finds it is incomplete. If your nomination is rejected, you may present a new nomination paper up until the time that nominations close.
- Make an appointment with the returning officer when you are ready to file your nomination paper.
- Ensure the names and addresses of the consenting electors are as legible, complete and clear as possible. This will help speed up the verification process and allow the returning officer to confirm your nomination quickly.
- Provide more than the required number of signatures, so that if there are difficulties in confirming the names and addresses of some electors, there will still be sufficient signatures to meet the requirement. You cannot provide additional signatures to the returning officer after 2:00 p.m. local time on Monday, the 21st day before election day.
- Keep in mind that once your nomination has been confirmed, only changes authorized by the Act (to the candidate's name, address or occupation) will be permitted. You must provide these changes to the returning officer in writing before 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations (the 21st day before polling day).
How to withdraw your nomination after becoming a confirmed candidate
A confirmed candidate who wishes to withdraw their nomination may withdraw at any time before 5:00 p.m. local time on the closing day for nominations (the 21st day before polling day). You must personally file a written statement to that effect with the returning officer, signed by you and witnessed by two electors who are qualified to vote in the electoral district in which your nomination was confirmed.
Main steps for prospective candidates filing their nomination paper
- Check that you meet the criteria set out in Part 6 of the Canada Elections Act
- Appoint an official agent and eligible auditor
- Obtain and fill out a Nomination Paper (EC 20010)
- Obtain at least 100 (or at least 50, if applicable) eligible signatures
- Have a qualified elector witness your consent to the nomination
- Have the witness to your consent file the nomination paper, other required documents and $1,000 deposit with the returning officer before 2:00 p.m. local time on Monday, the 21st day before election day
- Submit the required financial documents following the election to obtain a refund of your deposit
Information on political financing
Consult the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) to learn about all financial aspects of the campaign.
For more information:
Elections Canada Political Financing Support Network
1-800-486-6563 (Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time)
Elections Canada Public Enquiries Unit