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Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) – December 2023

1. Reference Tables and Timelines

This chapter presents quick reference tools for candidates and official agents. It covers the following topics:

  • Important deadlines for the candidate's campaign
  • Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees
  • Transfers—types and rules
  • Important reminders for candidates and their official agents

Important deadlines for the candidate's campaign

Start of the campaign

  • The candidate must appoint an official agent before accepting contributions, transfers or loans, or incurring expenses.
  • The official agent must open a campaign bank account before accepting funds (by way of contributions, transfers or loans) or spending funds.
  • The candidate may appoint an auditor right away, but it is not a requirement.*

Election is called

Nomination deadline

The candidate must submit their nomination paper to the returning officer by 2 p.m. on the 21st day before election day.

Election day

1 month after election day

If paper tax receipts are obtained from Elections Canada, the official agent must return all unused or cancelled tax receipts as well as a copy of each used tax receipt. We recommend using our free Electronic Financial Return software to issue receipts instead.

3 months after election day

The candidate must provide the official agent with the Candidate's Statement of Expenses and all supporting documents.

4 months after election day

The official agent must submit to Elections Canada:

  • Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return and all supporting documents
  • Candidate's Statement of Expenses and all supporting documents
  • auditor's report and Checklist for Audits, if required*

If the candidate received gifts or other advantages over $500 in total from any one person or entity, other than from a relative or through an unconditional, non-discretionary testamentary disposition, they must submit the Candidate's Statement of Gifts or Other Advantages Received to Elections Canada.

19 months after election day

If the campaign still has unpaid claims or loans 18 months after election day, the official agent must submit the Candidate's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Election Day.

37 months after election day

If the campaign still has unpaid claims or loans 36 months after election day, the official agent must submit the Candidate's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Election Day.

Variables dates

If a claim or loan is paid in full after the campaign return is filed, the official agent must submit an updated return within 30 days after the final payment.

Variable date

The official agent must dispose of any surplus of funds within 60 days after receiving the notice of estimated surplus from Elections Canada, then close the bank account. They must submit the Candidate's Statement of Surplus / Amended Campaign Return form and all supporting documents within seven days after disposing of the surplus.

*Required if the campaign accepts contributions totalling $10,000 or more, incurs electoral campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more, or the candidate receives 10% or more of the valid votes in their electoral district. Transfers that the candidate sends to affiliated political entities are not electoral campaign expenses.

Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees

Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees
Political entity 2024 annual limit Limit per election called between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2024
To each registered party $1,725* n/a
In total to all the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party $1,725* n/a
In total to all leadership contestants in a particular contest $1,725* n/a
To each independent candidate n/a $1,725*

Notes

  • Only individuals who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents can make contributions.
  • The contribution limits apply to total contributions, the unpaid balance of loans made during the contribution period, and the amount of any loan guarantees made during the contribution period that an individual is still liable for. The sum of these three amounts cannot exceed the contribution limit at any time during the relevant contribution period.
  • A nomination contestant is permitted to give an additional $1,000 in total per contest in contributions, loans and loan guarantees to their own campaign.
  • A candidate is permitted to give a total of $5,000 in contributions, loans and loan guarantees to their campaign. A candidate is also permitted to give an additional $1,725* in total per year in contributions, loans and loan guarantees to other candidates, registered associations and nomination contestants of each party. (This includes contributions to the registered association in the candidate's electoral district and contributions to the candidate's own nomination campaign.)
  • A leadership contestant is permitted to give a total of $25,000 in contributions, loans and loan guarantees to their campaign. A leadership contestant is also permitted to give an additional $1,725* in total per year in contributions, loans and loan guarantees to other leadership contestants.

*The limits increase by $25 on January 1 in each subsequent year.

Transfers—types and rules

This table shows the allowable monetary and non-monetary transfers between related registered political entities.

TO
FROM Nomination Contestant Leadership Contestant Candidate Registered Electoral District Association Registered Party
Monetary Non-monetary Monetary Non-monetary Monetary Non-monetary Monetary Non-monetary Monetary Non-monetary
Nomination Contestant No No No No Yesnote 1 No Yesnote 2 No Yes No
Leadership Contestant No No No No No No Yes No Yes No
Candidate Yesnote 3 Yesnote 3 No No Nonote 4 Nonote 4 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Registered Electoral District Association No Yesnote 5 No Yesnote 5 Yesnote 6 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Registered Party No Yesnote 5 Nonote 7 Yesnote 5 Yesnote 6 Yes Yesnote 8 Yesnote 8 n/a n/a

Note 1 A nomination contestant may transfer funds (but not property or services) to a candidate of the same party in the electoral district in which the nomination contest was held. After election day, monetary transfers are allowed only to pay claims and loans related to the candidate's campaign.

Note 2 A nomination contestant can only transfer funds to the registered electoral district association that held the nomination contest.

Note 3 Candidates may transfer property, services and funds to their own nomination contestant campaign for the same election.

Note 4 Candidates in a superseded by-election may transfer property, services and funds to their campaign for the general election.

Note 5 Non-monetary transfers must be offered equally to all contestants.

Note 6 Monetary transfers other than trust funds are allowed. After election day, monetary transfers are allowed only to pay claims and loans related to the candidate's campaign.

Note 7 Directed contributions are the only exception: they may be transferred to the leadership contestant.

Note 8 Registered parties may transfer property, services and funds to electoral district associations, whether registered or not.


Note: Independent candidates may not send or accept transfers of funds, property or services to or from other political entities.

Important reminders for candidates and their official agents

This infographic presents some of the basic rules for a candidate's campaign.

Roles Within Your Campaign

  • Appoint an official agent before starting your campaign. Appoint an auditor once you reach $10,000 in contributions or expenses or get 10% or more of the vote (or earlier).
  • Replace the official agent or auditor without delay if they can't continue in their role.
  • Check the eligibility rules in Chapter 2 before appointing or replacing the official agent or auditor.
  • Different people can incur and pay different types of expenses. Check the rules in Chapter 8 before entering into contracts or spending funds.
  • Only the official agent can accept contributions and send or accept transfers.


Expenses Limit

  • Know the election expenses limit for your electoral district. It is posted on the Elections Canada website in the Political Entities section.

Bank Account

  • The official agent must open a separate bank account for the campaign, even if no transactions are expected.
  • The bank account can be opened before the election is called.
  • Every monetary transaction must go through the bank account, except some payments of litigation and personal expenses.

Contributions and Other Resources

  • Don't accept contributions:
    • from any source other than a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
    • over an individual's contribution limit
    • in cash over $20
  • Issue receipts for contributions over $20.
  • Different sources can give different amounts of loans and loan guarantees. Check the rules in Chapter 4 before accepting loans or guarantees.
  • Don't issue tax receipts for contributions received before the candidate's nomination is confirmed by the returning officer.

Working with a Registered Association of Your Party

  • If an association plans to incur election expenses on your behalf, give them written authorization in advance.
  • Keep your finances separate and traceable. Record transfers or pay for property or services that your campaign gets from an association.

Record Keeping

  • For any expense under $50, keep proof of payment plus a record of the nature of the expense.
  • For any expense of $50 and over, keep a copy of the invoice (or other document evidencing the expense) and proof of payment.
  • Save electronic bank statements and other paperless records that you might lose access
    to later.
  • Check Chapter 17 for the full list of supporting documents to keep.

Returning Receipts and Reporting After Election Day

  • Your campaign has to return tax receipts:
    • 1 month after election day (if you got paper tax receipts from Elections Canada)
  • Your campaign has to submit reports:
    • 3 months after election day (candidate's statement of expenses to the official agent)
    • 4 months after election day (financial return, candidate's statement of expenses and, if required, auditor's report and candidate's statement of gifts)
    • 19 and 37 months after election day (if you have unpaid claims and loans)
    • within 30 days after paying a claim or loan in full (updated financial return)
  • Submit supporting documents with your returns. Reimbursements (if any) can't be issued without them.
  • Check Chapter 17 for details on reporting.

Closing Out the Campaign

  • If you have unpaid claims and loans, pay them within 36 months after election day.
  • Don't pay a claim or loan past 36 months unless you have authorization from Elections Canada or a judge.
  • Close the bank account after completing all financial transactions, but not before receiving any expected reimbursements or subsidies (check Chapter 18 for eligibility).
  • Within 60 days after receiving a notice of surplus funds from Elections Canada:
    • dispose of the surplus to an eligible political entity or Elections Canada, and notify Elections Canada within 7 days
    • close the bank account and send the final bank statement to Elections Canada