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Political Financing Handbook for Leadership Contestants and Financial Agents (EC 20195) – February 2020

1. Reference Tables and Timelines

This chapter presents quick reference tools for leadership contestants and financial agents. It covers the following topics:

  • Starting the leadership contestant's campaign
  • Important deadlines for the leadership contestant's campaign
  • Role and appointment process庸inancial agent, leadership campaign agents and auditor
  • Withdrawal of a leadership contestant
  • Closing the leadership contestant's campaign
  • Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees
  • Transfers葉ypes and rules
  • Important reminders for leadership contestants, financial agents and leadership campaign agents

Starting the leadership contestant's campaign

Party gives notice of a leadership contest

If a registered party decides to hold a leadership contest, the party's chief agent has to notify Elections Canada about the start and end dates using the General Form由egistered Party Leadership Contest.

Elections Canada publishes a notice with that information on its website.

Check the eligibility rules

The registered party sets the requirements that any person must meet to be a leadership contestant.

Under the Canada Elections Act, people in the following positions have to step down once they become leadership contestants:

  • auditors of candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants, registered parties or electoral district associations
  • financial agents of leadership contestants
  • leadership campaign agents
Appoint financial agent and auditor

The leadership contestant must appoint a financial agent before:

  • accepting a contribution, loan or transfer
  • incurring a leadership campaign expense
  • filing the application for registration

The leadership contestant must also appoint an auditor before filing the application for registration.

Open bank account

The financial agent has to open a separate bank account to be used exclusively for the contestant's campaign. This could happen before or after the contestant's registration.

The account has to be with a Canadian financial institution or an authorized foreign bank, as defined by the Bank Act.

The financial agent must be named as the account holder, as follows: (name), financial agent. For example: "Peter Raymond, financial agent". It is also acceptable to add the contestant's name to the name of the bank account. For example: "Peter Raymond, financial agent for Anne Thomas".

All monetary transactions in relation to the campaign have to go through the campaign bank account, unless they involve the payment of personal or litigation expenses.

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

Start incurring expenses and accepting contributions, loans or transfers

The campaign can start incurring expenses and accepting contributions, loans or transfers before the start date of the leadership contest, as long as the contestant has a financial agent and a bank account.

However, the contestant has to be registered with Elections Canada (see next step) to accept directed contributions.

Register with Elections Canada

To apply for registration, the contestant has to fill out the General Form–Registered Party Leadership Contestant 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 declaration signed by the chief agent of the registered party, certifying that the party accepts the applicant as a leadership contestant

With the application, the contestant also has to send the Leadership Contestant's Statement of Contributions and Loans Received Before the First Day of the Contest.

From a political financing perspective, once a contestant is registered, they are deemed to have been a leadership contestant from the date a contribution, loan or transfer was accepted or a leadership campaign expense was incurred.


Important deadlines for the leadership contestant's campaign

Contestant's campaign starts

Registration

Financial agent or contestant sends Elections Canada:

  • General Form由egistered Party Leadership Contestant
  • Leadership Contestant's Statement of Contributions and Loans Received Before the First Day of the ContestNote 4

3 weeks before

Financial agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Leadership Contestant's Interim Campaign Return (first return, if applicable)Note 5

2 days before

Financial agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Leadership Contestant's Interim Campaign Return (second return, if applicable)Note 5

Contest day

5 months after

Financial agent receives from contestant:

  • Leadership Contestant's Statement of Expenses (with all supporting documents)

6 months after

Financial agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Leadership Contestant's Campaign Return (with all required documents)
  • Leadership Contestant's Statement of Expenses (with all supporting documents)
  • Auditor's report (if applicable)Note 6

Note: If a claim or loan is paid in full any time after the campaign return is filed, the financial agent must send an updated campaign return to Elections Canada within 30 days.

19 months after

Financial agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Leadership Contestant's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Contest Day (if applicable)Note 7

37 months after

Financial agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Leadership Contestant's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Contest Day (if applicable)Note 7

Note 1 Must be appointed before contributions, transfers or loans are accepted or leadership campaign expenses are incurred.

Note 2 Must be appointed before registering as a leadership contestant.

Note 3 Required before any funds are accepted (by way of contributions, transfers or loans) or spent by the campaign.

Note 4 The contestant's campaign may not accept directed contributions until the contestant's registration has been confirmed.

Note 5 Required if the campaign accepted contributions totalling $10,000 or more, or incurred leadership campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more (note that transfers to affiliated political entities are not leadership campaign expenses). If the threshold is reached after the first reporting period, one interim campaign return must be submitted for the whole period.

Note 6 Required if the campaign accepted contributions totalling $10,000 or more, or incurred leadership campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more (note that transfers to affiliated political entities are not leadership campaign expenses).

Note 7 Required if the campaign has unpaid claims and loans.

Role and appointment process—financial agent

Leadership contestant's financial agent

Role summary
  • The financial agent is responsible for administering the contestant's financial transactions and reporting those transactions to Elections Canada as required by the Canada Elections Act.
  • The contestant may have only one financial agent at a time.
  • The financial agent's role continues until the contestant's campaign fulfills all financial reporting requirements.
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old Yes
Corporation or partnership No
Leadership contestant 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 person with a diminished mental capacity) No
Any other person or group not mentioned above No
Appointment process
  • The contestant has to appoint a financial agent before accepting contributions, loans or transfers, incurring leadership campaign expenses or 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 contestant 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.
  • 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.

Role and appointment process—leadership campaign agents

Leadership contestant's leadership campaign agents

Role summary
  • Leadership campaign agents may be authorized by the leadership contestant to do one or more of the following:
    • accept contributions or loans
    • accept or send transfers
    • incur or pay leadership campaign expenses
    • issue contribution receipts, other than for directed contributions received through the party
Who is eligible? Yes/No
Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old Yes
Corporation or partnership No
Leadership contestant 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 person with a diminished mental capacity) No
Any other person or group not mentioned above No

Appointment process

  • The appointment of leadership campaign agents is optional.
  • The leadership contestant may appoint any number of leadership campaign agents at any time.
  • Within 30 days of appointing one or more agents, the contestant has to send Elections Canada a written report that:
    • lists the names and addresses of the new leadership campaign agents
    • specifies the terms and conditions of the appointments
    • includes the financial agent's signed declaration

Role and appointment process—auditor

Leadership contestant's auditor

Role summary
  • If the campaign accepts contributions totalling $10,000 or more, or incurs leadership campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more, the auditor has to examine the campaign's financial records and give an opinion in a report as to whether the financial 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 campaign, and may require the contestant or the contestant's 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 incorporated 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 incorporated professional accountants (CPA designation)* Yes
Candidate or their 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
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
Any other person or group not mentioned above No

Appointment process

  • The leadership contestant 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 contestant 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.
  • The contestant may have only one auditor at a time

*Provincial and territorial auditing bodies may require auditors to meet other professional criteria in order to perform this role.

Withdrawal of a leadership contestant

Voluntary or involuntary withdrawal of a leadership contestant

Voluntary

If the leadership contestant chooses to withdraw from the contest after registration, the contestant has to send a signed statement to Elections Canada indicating the date of withdrawal.

This should be done using the General Form由egistered Party Leadership Contestant.

Involuntary

If the registered party withdraws its acceptance of a leadership contestant after their registration, the party's chief agent has to send a signed statement to Elections Canada indicating the date of withdrawal.

This should be done using the General Form由egistered Party Leadership Contest.

Reporting requirements after withdrawal

Registered leadership contestants who withdraw or are withdrawn still have to fulfill the reporting requirements up to the date of withdrawal.

They must submit the Leadership Contestant's Campaign Return to Elections Canada, but they are relieved of filing the Leadership Contestant's Interim Campaign Return for any period after the withdrawal.

Example

A leadership contest is being held on July 31. The first interim campaign return is due three weeks before the end of the leadership contest, on July 10. A leadership contestant withdraws on July 9. The contestant does not have to file any interim campaign returns but must still file the final campaign return.

Note: After the contestant withdraws, the campaign can continue accepting contributions to satisfy any outstanding financial obligations.

For details about financial reporting, see Chapter 13, Reporting.

Closing the leadership contestant's campaign

Fulfill reporting obligations The leadership contestant's campaign must fulfill all reporting obligations before it can close the campaign.

See the Reporting obligations after contest day and Additional reporting tables in Chapter 13, Reporting.
Receive auditor's subsidy (if applicable) If the campaign has to submit an auditor's report, Elections Canada will pay a subsidy directly to the auditor once it has received all documents and reviewed the contestant's return.

See the Auditor's fees section in Chapter 12, Other Leadership Campaign Expenses.
Manage unpaid claims and loans Claims and loans must be paid within 36 months after contest day.

If a claim or loan is still unpaid 36 months after contest day, the financial agent or the contestant has to seek authorization from Elections Canada or a judge before paying it.

See Chapter 14, Managing Unpaid Claims and Loans.
File amended return(s) An amended contestant's return has to be filed with Elections Canada to correct errors or omissions, or to report new transactions.

Corrections or revisions might be requested by Elections Canada, or by the contestant or financial agent.

See the Additional reporting table in Chapter 13, Reporting.
Dispose of surplus After all financial obligations have been met, the campaign must dispose of any surplus of funds and fulfill the surplus reporting obligations.

The surplus must be transferred to the registered party or a registered association of the party.

See Chapter 15, Disposing of Surplus.
Close bank account Once all unpaid claims, loans, other financial obligations and any surplus have been dealt with, the financial agent has to close the campaign bank account.

The financial agent has to send the final bank statement to Elections Canada.

Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees

Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees
Political entity 2020 annual limit Limit per election called between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020
To each registered party $1,625* n/a
In total to all the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party $1,625* n/a
In total to all leadership contestants in a particular contest $1,625* n/a
To each independent candidate n/a $1,625*

Notes

  • 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 at any time exceed the contribution limit.
  • 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 $1,625* 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 $1,625* 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 leadership contestants, financial agents and leadership campaign agents

Before contest day
DO DON'T
  • Appoint a financial agent, who must open a bank account to be used exclusively for the campaign before any contribution, transfer or loan is accepted or any leadership campaign expense is incurred.
  • Appoint an auditor who is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services (CPA designation).
  • Ensure that only the financial agent, authorized leadership campaign agents or the leadership contestant incur leadership campaign expenses.
  • Ensure that all monetary transactions go through the campaign bank account, unless they involve the payment of personal or litigation expenses.
  • Issue receipts for each contribution over $20, except for directed contributions received through the party.
  • For any expense of $50 and over, keep a copy of the invoice and proof of payment. For any expense of less than $50, keep proof of payment plus a record of the nature of the expense.
  • Do not allow anyone other than the financial agent, authorized leadership campaign agents or the leadership contestant to incur leadership campaign expenses.
  • Do not accept directed contributions from the registered party before the leadership contestant has registered with Elections Canada.
  • Do not allow anyone other than the financial agent or an authorized leadership campaign agent to pay leadership campaign expenses.*
  • Do not accept contributions:
    • from any source other than an individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
    • that exceed an individual's contribution limit
    • in cash that exceed $20
  • Do not accept loans from any source other than a financial institution or an individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
  • Do not accept loan guarantees from any source other than an individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
  • Do not accept a loan or loan guarantee from an individual if it exceeds the individual's contribution limit.

*Exceptions: A person authorized in writing by the financial agent or by a leadership campaign agent can pay expenses out of petty cash. The leadership contestant can pay their travel and living expenses. Anyone can pay the contestant's personal and litigation expenses.



After contest day
DO DON'T
  • Provide the Leadership Contestant's Statement of Expenses to the financial agent no later than 5 months after contest day, even if it is a nil statement.
  • Submit the Leadership Contestant's Campaign Return and related documents within 6 months after contest day.
  • Submit all loan, overdraft and line of credit conditions, including repayment schedules, with the leadership contestant's return.
  • Allow the auditor sufficient time before the submission deadline to review the financial documents and prepare the audit report (auditor's report is required if contributions or leadership campaign expenses, not including transfers to affiliated political entities, total $10,000 or more).
  • Pay all claims and loans within 36 months after contest day. After that time, an authorization from Elections Canada or a judge will be required for late payments.
  • File an updated return within 30 days of paying a claim or loan in full.
  • Dispose of any surplus in compliance with the Canada Elections Act after the campaign has met all its financial obligations. Notify Elections Canada within 7 days of the disposal.
  • Close the campaign bank account after all financial obligations are met and any surplus is disposed of. Provide Elections Canada with the final bank statement.
  • Do not pay unpaid claims or loans later than 36 months after contest day without first obtaining Elections Canada's or a judge's authorization.
  • Do not close the campaign bank account until all financial obligations are met and any surplus has been disposed of.