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Political Financing Handbook for Electoral District Associations and Financial Agents (EC 20089) – December 2023

2. Registration

This chapter presents information for electoral district associations on the registration process and changes in status. It covers the following topics:

  • Why become a registered electoral district association?
  • Voluntary and involuntary deregistration of a registered association
  • Activities and obligations after receiving a notice of deregistration
  • Roles and appointments–chief executive officer, financial agent, electoral district agents and auditor

Why become a registered electoral district association?

An electoral district association is defined as an association of members of a political party in an electoral district.

There are several advantages to registering as an electoral district association with Elections Canada. An association has to register if it wants to perform financial tasks such as:

  • accepting contributions
  • issuing tax receipts, once it has written authorization from the party leader
  • transferring funds, property or services to other political entities (see restrictions in the Transfers–types and rules table in Chapter 1, Reference Tables and Timelines)
  • accepting surplus funds from a nomination contestant (if the association held the contest), from a candidate in the same electoral district or from a leadership contestant

A registered party can have at most one registered association in an electoral district.

Applying for registration

To apply for registration, the chief executive officer of the association has to fill out the form Application to Register an Electoral District Association and send it to Elections Canada.

The form explains what information and signatures to include, notably:

  • the financial agent's contact information and signed consent to act in that role
  • the auditor's contact information and signed consent to act in that role
  • a signed declaration from the registered party leader, certifying that the association is an electoral district association of the party

After reviewing the application, Elections Canada will inform the party and the association that:

  • the association is registered in the Registry of Electoral District Associations, or
  • the association did not meet all the requirements but may try to make the necessary modifications to qualify

An association becomes registered on the date it is entered in the registry. It remains registered as long as it continues to meet the requirements for staying registered, including mandatory reporting.

Reporting requirements soon after registration

In the months after an association is registered, it must establish its first fiscal period to determine when its first annual financial return is due. It must also submit a statement of its assets and liabilities.

Establishing the first fiscal period after registration

A registered association's fiscal year must be a calendar year (January 1 to December 31). But its first fiscal period after registration may be longer or shorter than one year.

Depending on the date of registration, the length of a registered association's first fiscal period must be modified to end on December 31. It may not be less than 6 months or more than 18 months.

The first annual financial return will be due either in the first or second year after registration.

Examples
  1. An association is registered on June 30, 2023. Its first fiscal period will end on December 31, 2023, six months after registration. Its first annual financial return will be due on May 31, 2024.
  2. An association is registered on July 1, 2023. Its first fiscal period will end on December 31, 2024, 18 months after registration. Its first annual financial return will be due on May 31, 2025.

Submitting the association's statement of assets and liabilities

Within six months after the association is registered, it must submit the Registered Association's Statement of Assets and Liabilities. The statement lists the association's assets and liabilities as of the day before the effective date of registration.

Voluntary and involuntary deregistration of a registered association

Voluntary deregistration

There are two ways that a registered association may be voluntarily deregistered:

  • The registered association can ask to be deregistered. The request must be made in writing and signed by the chief executive officer and financial agent.
  • The registered party can ask to have an association deregistered. The request must be made in writing and signed by the party leader and two party officers.

Note: Elections Canada cannot process a request for voluntary deregistration during an election period.

Involuntary deregistration

There are many reasons that a registered association may be involuntarily deregistered:

  • The registered party is deregistered, which means its registered associations are too.
  • The registered party merges with another party. All associations of the merging parties are deregistered.
  • The electoral district boundaries of the association's electoral district are redrawn, and the association does not file a notice to continue under the new boundaries.
  • The registered association fails to meet its reporting obligations (see details below).

Failure to meet reporting obligations: risk of deregistration

Elections Canada may deregister a registered association if it fails to provide:

  • a statement confirming the validity of its registry information or a report of changes by May 31 each year
  • any document required to inform Elections Canada about a change in its registry information or any new appointment within 30 days of the event
  • the Registered Association's Statement of Assets and Liabilities within six months after the effective date of registration
  • the Registered Association's Financial Transactions Return and, if required, the auditor's report by May 31 each year
  • a nomination contest report within 30 days after the contest selection date

Elections Canada will first notify the association's chief executive officer and financial agent of the failure to meet the obligation. It will ask the association to:

  • correct the omission within 30 days of receiving the notice, or
  • satisfy Elections Canada that the omission was not the result of negligence or a lack of good faith

Note: Elections Canada also sends a copy of this notice to the leader and the chief agent of the association's registered party.

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

  • exempt the association in whole or in part from complying with the obligation, or
  • specify a new deadline to comply with the obligation

Deregistration process

If a registered association is deregistered:

  • Elections Canada sends a notice to the association with the effective date of deregistration. This date will be at least 15 days after the notice date.
  • A copy of the notice is sent to the registered party of the association.
  • The notice is published on Elections Canada's website and in the Canada Gazette.

Activities and obligations after receiving a notice of deregistration

Activities after receiving a notice of deregistration

An association that receives a notice of deregistration should be aware of restrictions that will apply after the effective date of deregistration indicated in the notice. A deregistered association is no longer allowed to:

  • accept contributions
  • issue tax receipts
  • accept surplus funds from other political entities
  • transfer funds, property or services to other political entities (unless it was deregistered because the electoral district boundaries were redrawn or its party merged with another, in which case it can transfer property or funds to the registered party or a registered association of the party within six months after the new boundaries or merger take effect)

A registered association that has been notified of its impending voluntary or involuntary deregistration can, before the effective date of the deregistration, transfer assets to:

  • its registered party
  • another registered association of the party
  • in certain circumstances, a candidate endorsed by the party
  • a nomination contestant or leadership contestant of the party (if the transfer is non-monetary and offered equally to all contestants)

There is no obligation on a registered association that is facing deregistration to transfer its assets, and only the financial agent can send transfers on the association's behalf. After the deadline to send transfers, remaining untransferred assets are removed from the political system.

Note: A new association cannot simply assume the untransferred assets of a deregistered association. Assets must be transferred to an eligible political entity as an intermediary.

Example

A registered association receives a notice from Elections Canada on June 1 that it will be deregistered on June 30. No later than June 29, the financial agent transfers the association's funds from its bank account to the registered party's bank account. The financial agent transfers the association's non-monetary assets (property) to the registered party by reporting an outgoing transfer dated no later than June 29 in its financial return.

After June 30, a new association of the party applies to Elections Canada for registration in the same electoral district and takes over the association's bank account, if it so chooses. The registered party transfers the funds and property to the new association, if it so chooses. The party can send these transfers at any time, whether or not the association has been effectively registered.

Mandatory reporting after deregistration

The financial agent of a deregistered association remains responsible for filing the Registered Association's Financial Transactions Return and, if required, the auditor's report within six months after deregistration. Financial returns must be filed for:

  • the fiscal period in which the association became deregistered, ending on the day of its deregistration
  • any other fiscal period for which the association has not filed a return
OGI reference

For a detailed discussion of this topic, please refer to Elections Canada's interpretation note 2022-01, Assets of Deregistered Electoral District Associations, on the Elections Canada website.

Roles and appointments within the association

Role and appointment process–chief executive officer

Association's chief executive officer

Role summary
  • The chief executive officer is responsible for certifying forms related to the association's registration, including when there is a change in the associationís registry information.
  • The chief executive officer co-signs the registered association's application for deregistration.
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Anyone Yes
Appointment process
  • The association has to appoint a chief executive officer before applying for registration.
  • The association may have only one chief executive officer at a time.
  • A chief executive officer who steps down from their role should notify the association so that it can appoint a replacement.
  • Use the form Application to Register an Electoral District Association to report the initial appointment.
  • Use the form Registered Association's Changes to Registry Information to report updates after registration.

Role and appointment process–financial agent

Association's financial agent

Role summary
  • The financial agent is responsible for administering the association's financial transactions and reporting those transactions to Elections Canada as required by the Canada Elections Act.
  • The financial agent is responsible for accepting and sending transfers on behalf of the association. This responsibility cannot be delegated to an electoral district agent.
  • The financial agent should open a bank account to be used exclusively for the registered association's finances.
  • The financial agent co-signs the registered association's application for deregistration.
  • After deregistration, the financial agent's role continues until the association fulfills all financial reporting requirements.
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old and who lives or has lived in Canada Yes
Corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province Yes
Person who is a member of a partnership that has been appointed as an auditor for a registered party Yes
Person who is a member of a partnership that has been appointed as an auditor for a political entity other than a registered party No
Candidate No
Election officer or member of the staff of a returning officer No
Undischarged bankrupt No
Auditor appointed as required by the Canada Elections Act No
Person who does not have the full capacity to enter into contracts in the province or territory in which the person ordinarily resides (e.g. a dissolved corporation or a person with a diminished mental capacity) No
Appointment process
  • The association has to appoint a financial agent before applying for registration.
  • The financial agent has to sign a statement consenting to act in that capacity.
  • If for any reason the financial agent is no longer able to continue in that role, the association must appoint a new financial agent without delay and notify Elections Canada within 30 days. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new financial agent.
  • The association may have only one financial agent at a time.
  • Although it is not a legal requirement, a financial 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.
  • A financial agent who steps down from their role should notify the association so that it can appoint a replacement.
  • Use the form Application to Register an Electoral District Association to report the initial appointment.
  • Use the form Registered Associationís Changes to Registry Information to report updates after registration.

Role and appointment process–electoral district agents

Association's electoral district agents

Role summary
  • Electoral district agents may be authorized by the registered association to do one or more of the following:
    • accept contributions or loans on the association's behalf
    • issue contribution receipts, including tax receipts (if the party leader has authorized the association to issue tax receipts)
    • incur or pay the association's expenses
  • Electoral district agents cannot be authorized to accept or send transfers on behalf of the association. That is the financial agent's responsibility.
  • Authorized electoral district agents may share signing authority with the financial agent over the registered association's bank account.
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old and who lives or has lived in Canada Yes
Corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province Yes
Person who is a member of a partnership that has been appointed as an auditor for a registered party Yes
Person who is a member of a partnership that has been appointed as an auditor for a political entity other than a registered party No
Candidate No
Election officer or member of the staff of a returning officer No
Undischarged bankrupt No
Auditor appointed as required by the Canada Elections Act No
Person who does not have the full capacity to enter into contracts in the province or territory in which the person ordinarily resides (e.g. a dissolved corporation or a person with a diminished mental capacity) No
Appointment process
  • The appointment of electoral district agents is optional.
  • The registered association may appoint any number of electoral district agents at any time.
  • Within 30 days of appointing one or more agents, the registered association has to send Elections Canada:
    • the names and addresses of the new electoral district agents
    • the terms and conditions of the appointments
    • certification of the appointments by the financial agent
  • Use the Report of Appointment, Update or Removal for Electoral District Agents of a Registered Association to report these appointments and updates.

Role and appointment process–auditor

Association's auditor

Role summary
  • If in a fiscal period the registered association receives contributions totalling $10,000 or more, or incurs expenses totalling $10,000 or more, the auditor has to examine the association's financial records and give an opinion in a report as to whether the annual return presents fairly the information contained in the financial records on which it is based.
  • The auditor has a right to access all documents of the association, and may require the financial agent to provide any information or explanation that is necessary to enable the auditor to prepare the report.
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Person who is a member in good standing of a corporation, an association or an institute of provincially accredited professional accountants (CPA designation)* Yes
Partnership of which every partner is a member in good standing of a corporation, an association or an institute of provincially accredited professional accountants (CPA designation)* Yes
Any candidate or official agent No
Election officer or member of the staff of a returning officer No
Chief agent of a registered party or an eligible party No
Registered agent of a registered party No
Financial agent or electoral district agent of a registered association No
Leadership contestant, their financial agent or a leadership campaign agent No
Nomination contestant or their financial agent No
Financial agent of a registered third party No
Appointment process
  • The association has to appoint an auditor before applying for registration.
  • The auditor has to sign a statement consenting to act in that capacity.
  • If for any reason the auditor is no longer able to continue in that role, the association must appoint a new auditor without delay and notify Elections Canada within 30 days. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new auditor.
  • A registered association may have only one auditor at a time, but the same person can be the auditor for more than one registered association.
  • An auditor who steps down from their role should notify the association so that it can appoint a replacement.
  • Use the form Application to Register an Electoral District Association to report the initial appointment.
  • Use the form Registered Association's Changes to Registry Information to report updates after registration.

*Provincially or territorially legislated accounting bodies may require auditors to meet other professional criteria in order to perform this role, such as holding a public accounting licence in the province or territory where the political entity is based. This should be discussed with the auditor before the appointment.