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Political Financing Handbook for Registered Parties and Chief Agents (EC 20231) – April 2015

This document is the DRAFT version of Elections Canada's guideline: OGI 2015-01

Chapter 1 – Registering a Political Party

This chapter covers the following topics:

Introduction

This chapter focuses on the process of becoming a registered political party. The chapter also explains the reasons for and consequences of deregistration, and the consequences of party mergers.

1.1 The registration process

Definition

A political party is an organization whose fundamental purpose is to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election.

The Canada Elections Act differentiates between the following:

Registering with Elections Canada

A political party has to apply to register with Elections Canada to participate in a federal election and qualify for certain rights and benefits.

The application to register must include the following:

Verifying the information

When Elections Canada receives an application for registration, the Registrar of Political Parties verifies the information provided by the party members listed on the application.

Note: It is advisable to provide the contact information and declarations of more than 250 party members to ensure that there are at least 250 valid declarations after the information is verified.

Eligibility for registration

A political party becomes eligible for registration if:

Elections Canada will determine whether the political party is eligible for registration and inform the leader of the party:

An eligible party becomes a registered party when:

Note: An eligible party that makes an application after the 60-day deadline becomes a registered party for the next general election or by-election if it satisfies the requirements for registration.

Elections Canada notifies the leader of an eligible party after the closure of nominations:

From a political financing perspective, an eligible party that becomes registered is deemed to have been registered from the day the general election or by-election was called.

Registry of Political Parties

The registered status of a party is maintained in the Registry of Political Parties for as long as the party meets the requirements of the law to maintain that status. The party does not need to reapply at each general election.

Benefits of being a registered party

Being registered means that the party may:

Note: A registered party may not have more than one registered association in an electoral district.

Obligations after registration

Establish a fiscal year

The fiscal year of a registered party must be a calendar year. Depending on the date of the registration, the party must modify the length of its first fiscal period so that it ends on December 31st. The first fiscal period may not be less than six months or more than 18 months.

Examples
  1. If a party registers on October 1st, the party's first fiscal period will end on December 31st in the following year, 15 months after registration.
  2. If a party registers on March 1st, the party's first fiscal period will end on December 31st in the same year, 10 months after registration.
Reporting obligations

Registered and eligible parties must meet various reporting obligations. These include the following:

The following reporting obligations apply to registered parties only:

Note: Elections Canada may deregister a registered party if it fails to comply with reporting obligations. Similarly, an eligible party may lose its eligibility if it fails to comply with the reporting obligations.

For more about reporting obligations, see Chapter 4, Reporting Requirements.

Advisory Committee of Political Parties

The Advisory Committee of Political Parties was established to provide Elections Canada with advice and recommendations relating to elections and political financing. The Chief Electoral Officer presides over the committee.

The committee meets at least once per year and consists of two representatives per party.

Provincial or territorial divisions of a registered party

A provincial or territorial division of the registered party is a division of the party for which the registered party provided Elections Canada with the following information:

1.2 Deregistration

Introduction

Registered parties may be deregistered for several reasons. The party might ask to be deregistered, or the registered party may be deregistered for failing to perform an obligation required under the Canada Elections Act.

This section discusses the reasons for and consequences of deregistration.

Voluntary deregistration

The registered party may send a request to Elections Canada to become deregistered. The leader and two officers of the party have to sign the application.

Note: Elections Canada cannot deregister a party during an election period.

Involuntary deregistration

If the registered party has failed to perform its obligations with respect to officers or members, Elections Canada notifies the party and requests that:

Note: If Elections Canada is satisfied that the registered party made reasonable efforts to comply with the request, it may grant an extension to comply.

If the registered party has failed to perform its obligations with respect to reporting, Elections Canada notifies the party and requests that:

If the party does not correct the omission but instead satisfies Elections Canada that the omission was not the result of negligence or lack of good faith, Elections Canada may:

Note: Failure to comply with notices from Elections Canada may lead to deregistration of the party.

Court-ordered deregistration

If a registered party, its chief agent or registered agent or one of its officers has been convicted of an offence, the court may order Elections Canada to deregister the party.

Process of deregistration

If a registered party is deregistered, Elections Canada notifies the party and its registered associations in writing. The written notice contains the effective date of deregistration, which will be at least 15 days after the date of the notice.

Elections Canada enters the deregistration of the party in the Registry of Political Parties and publishes the notice of deregistration on its website and in the Canada Gazette.

Note: If a registered party is deregistered, its registered associations are also deregistered.

Obligations after deregistration

After the effective date of deregistration, the party is no longer allowed to perform the following tasks:

A political party that is deregistered remains responsible for filing financial returns within six months after becoming deregistered. The financial returns have to cover:

1.3 Merger of registered parties

Application for merger

Two or more registered parties may apply to Elections Canada to become a single registered party. An application for merger can be submitted any time except during an election period or 30 days before it.

An application for merger must include:

After 30 days of receiving the application for a merger, Elections Canada updates the Registry of Political Parties if the following conditions are met:

Elections Canada then notifies the officers of the merging parties in writing and publishes the information about the merger in the Canada Gazette. The effective date of the merger is the day on which Elections Canada amends the Registry of Political Parties.

Consequences of merger

The following happens when two or more registered parties merge:

What happens with the registered associations of merging parties

Any registered association of a merging party is deregistered and may transfer funds or property to the merged party or to a registered association of a merged party within six months after the merger.

Electoral district associations of the merged party must register with Elections Canada.

Obligations after a merger

Within six months after the date of the merger, the merging parties must provide:

Within six months after the date of the merger, the merged party must provide: