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Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) – December 2014

This document is the DRAFT version of Elections Canada's guideline: OGI 2014-03.

CHAPTER 1 – Starting the Candidate's Campaign

This chapter covers the following topics:

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the beginning of the candidate's campaign. It explains how to become a candidate: who is eligible and what needs to be done during the nomination process.

The second part discusses in detail certain tasks that have to be completed at the beginning of the campaign, such as appointing an official agent and an auditor, opening a bank account, and filing the nomination papers. These and other tasks are important to ensure efficient campaign administration and financial management.

1.1 How to become a candidate

Definition

From a political financing perspective, a person is deemed to be a candidate from the date a contribution, loan or transfer is accepted or an electoral campaign expense is incurred. This may occur before the confirmation of the nomination and before or after the election is called. However, contributions are not eligible for tax receipts until after the candidate's nomination has been confirmed by the returning officer.

A political party may endorse only one prospective candidate in each electoral district for a given election. A candidate may seek election in only one electoral district at a time but does not have to reside in that electoral district.

A person remains a candidate until the candidate's campaign fulfills all financial reporting requirements.

Eligibility

Who can become a candidate?

Who is not eligible to be a candidate?

Nomination process

An individual officially becomes a candidate once the local returning officer confirms the nomination.

The nomination process includes the following tasks:

  1. The candidate has to appoint an official agent before expenses are incurred or contributions, loans or transfers are accepted. Section 1.2, What has to be done at the beginning of the campaign, discusses the appointment process and the official agent's role and obligations in detail.
  2. The candidate has to appoint an auditor before expenses are incurred or contributions loans or transfers are accepted. Section 1.2, What has to be done at the beginning of the campaign, discusses the appointment process and the auditor's role and obligations in detail.
  3. The candidate's nomination paper has to be completed. The nomination paper is downloadable from the Elections Canada website and includes the following:
    • The candidate's name, address and occupation.
    • The official agent's name, address and occupation.
    • The auditor's name, address and occupation.
    • The candidate's signed statement consenting to the nomination in front of a witness, who also signs the statement. The witness is a person who knows the candidate and will take an oath to that effect.
    • The official agent's signed statement consenting to the role.
    • A statement signed by the auditor, consenting to act in that capacity.
    • The name of the political party endorsing the candidate. If an individual has no party endorsement, he or she may choose to run as an "independent" or as having no political affiliation.
    • If the candidate is endorsed by a registered party, the nomination paper has to include a signed endorsement letter from the leader of the party for which the candidate is running.
  4. The nomination paper has to be signed by at least 100 electors (in front of a witness) who are eligible to vote in the electoral district where the candidate intends to run. The names and addresses of the 100 people who sign also have to be listed. In addition, the nomination paper has to list the name and address of each witness to each signature.

Note: For a list of electoral districts where the names, addresses and signatures of at least 50 electors are required, please see Schedule 3 of the Canada Elections Act.

Note: It is advisable to collect the names, addresses and signatures of more than 100 electors who reside in the electoral district. The returning officer may reject an invalid elector and will not confirm the candidate's nomination if the number of valid electors is less than 100.

  1. Before the close of nominations, a witness has to file the nomination paper with the returning officer in the electoral district in which the candidate is seeking nomination. Filing must take place no later than 2:00 p.m. local time on the 21st day before election day.

    The witness has to take an oath before the returning officer, stating that the witness knows the prospective candidate and is a qualified elector, and that the candidate signed the nomination paper in his or her presence.

Together with the nomination paper, the witness has to file:

The returning officer will give the prospective candidate notice of confirmation or of refusal no later than 48 hours after the nomination paper is filed.

Note: It is advisable to file the nomination paper early (contact the returning officer to see if the office is open already). This is to ensure that there is enough time to make corrections in case the returning officer finds an error or omission and refuses to accept the nomination paper. A corrected nomination paper can be submitted any time before the close of nominations.

The candidate's responsibilities and obligations

The candidate has to appoint an official agent and an auditor before accepting a contribution, loan or transfer or incurring an electoral campaign expense, or before the nomination paper is filed whichever comes first.

The Canada Elections Act imposes a limit on election expenses. During the campaign, both the candidate and the official agent are responsible for budget control and for making sure that the limit on election expenses is respected.

The candidate must submit the signed Candidate's Statement of Personal Expenses and supporting documents to the official agent within three months after election day. The statement must include all personal expenses, as well as expenses of candidate representatives present at the polling stations, or when electors receive special ballots at the office of the returning officer, that were paid by the candidate and not reimbursed by the official agent.

Note: The candidate must submit the signed Candidate's Statement of Personal Expenses even if his or her personal expenses were nil.

In certain cases, the candidate has to prepare the Candidate's Statement of Gifts and Other Advantages Received. If required, this report is submitted by the candidate directly to Elections Canada within four months after election day. For explanations of when to report gifts and other advantages, see Chapter 2, Campaign Inflows, and Chapter 4, Reporting Requirements.

Note: If a candidate withdraws after the nomination was confirmed, he or she still has to fulfill all reporting requirements.

1.2 What has to be done at the beginning of the campaign

Other tasks also have to be completed at the beginning of the candidate's campaign. The order in which the tasks are completed may vary. This section presents a typical sequence of events.

Important deadlines for the candidate's campaign
Text version of "What has to be done at the beginning of the campaign" image

Appoint an official agent

The candidate is required to appoint an official agent before he or she can accept contributions, loans or transfers, incur electoral campaign expenses, or before filing the nomination papers whichever comes first.

Definition

The official agent is responsible for administering the campaign's financial transactions and reporting those transactions to Elections Canada as required by the Canada Elections Act.
The candidate may have only one official agent at a time.
The official agent's role continues until the candidate's campaign fulfills all financial reporting requirements.

Eligibility

Who can become an official agent?

Note: Although it is not a legal requirement, the individual who becomes an official agent should be experienced in managing finances. The role requires a strong ability to control, record and administer financial transactions, as well as to create financial reports.

Who is not eligible to be an official agent?

Appointment process

When appointing an official agent, the candidate must obtain his or her signed consent to act in that capacity. The statement has to be submitted to the local returning officer with the candidate's nomination paper.

If for any reason the official agent is no longer able to continue in that role, the candidate must appoint a new official agent without delay and notify Elections Canada of the new appointment. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new official agent.

The official agent's responsibilities and obligations

The official agent has to open a separate bank account in his or her name, to be used exclusively for the candidate's campaign. The Open a bank account section contains more information on the process of opening an account.

Appoint an auditor

Definition

The auditor examines the candidate's return and prepares a report that states the auditor's opinion as to whether the financial return presents the information contained in the financial records on which it is based.

The candidate may have only one auditor at a time.

Eligibility

Who can become an auditor?

Who is not eligible to be an auditor?

Appointment process

The candidate has to appoint an auditor before accepting a contribution loan or transfer, or incurring an electoral campaign expense, or before the candidate's nomination paper is filed whichever comes first.
The auditor has to sign a statement consenting to act in that capacity. The statement has to be submitted to the local returning officer with the candidate's nomination paper.

If for any reason the auditor is no longer able to continue in that role, the candidate must appoint a new auditor without delay and notify Elections Canada about the new appointment. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new auditor.

The auditor's responsibilities and obligations

The auditor has a right to access all documents of the candidate, and may require the candidate or the candidate's official agent to provide any information or explanation that is necessary to enable the auditor to prepare the report.

In accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, the auditor has to examine the candidate's financial records and give an opinion in a report as to whether the candidate's return presents the information contained in the financial records on which it is based.

The auditor's report has to include a completed checklist for audits in the prescribed form.

Open a bank account

The official agent has to open a separate bank account to be used exclusively for the candidate's campaign. This could happen before or after the candidate's nomination is confirmed or before an election is called. The account has to be with a Canadian financial institution or in an authorized foreign bank, as defined by the Bank Act. The official agent must be named as the account holder, as follows: (name), financial agent. For example: "Peter Raymond, financial agent".

On the Elections Canada website, please refer to the document entitled Access to Banking Services by the Candidate's Official Agent. This is based on information provided by the Canadian Bankers Association and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions concerning the opening of campaign accounts for federal electoral purposes.

All monetary transactions in relation to the campaign have to go through the campaign bank account. In other words, all monies received have to be deposited to the campaign bank account, including refunds from suppliers, nomination deposit, fundraising revenue and reimbursements from Elections Canada. Similarly, all payments have to be made from the campaign bank account, except for payments from petty cash and payments for the candidate's personal expenses. The petty cash float is created by withdrawing cash from the campaign bank account.

At the end of the campaign, any unpaid claims, loans or surplus have to be dealt with. Once that has been done, the official agent has to close the bank account and provide Elections Canada with a final bank statement.

Note: The bank account has to remain open until the campaign fulfills all financial obligations.

Create a campaign budget

Although a campaign budget is not mandatory, it is strongly advised to create one.

The candidate, the official agent and a person whom the official agent has authorized in writing can incur expenses during the campaign.

Creating a campaign budget together gives them the opportunity to decide how to control, oversee and communicate about campaign expenditures. This will help to ensure that they do not exceed the election expenses limit.

When can a campaign start incurring expenses or accepting contributions, loans or transfers?

The campaign can start incurring electoral campaign expenses or accepting contributions, loans or transfers before the election is called, provided the following conditions are met:

Note: Contributions received before the returning officer has confirmed the candidate's nomination are not eligible for tax receipts but are still subject to the contribution limits.

Note: If an expense is incurred as an incidence of an election but is incurred for property or services used before an election is called, it is still considered an electoral campaign expense.

For explanations of the rules and regulations with regard to contributions and electoral campaign expenses, see Chapter 2, Campaign Inflows, and Chapter 3, Campaign Outflows.