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Political Financing Handbook for Third Parties, Financial Agents and Auditors – June 2021

To be used for non-fixed-date general elections and by-elections

2. Registration

This chapter outlines the registration requirements for the election period.

It covers the following topics:

  • Requirement to register
  • Registration process
  • Prohibition on foreign third parties

Requirement to register

A person, corporation or group must register with Elections Canada as a third party immediately after it conducts one or more regulated activities in an election period with combined expenses totalling $500 or more.

The following are eligible to become registered third parties:

  • an individual who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or who lives in Canada
  • a corporation that carries on business in Canada (including a municipal government), as long as it is not a foreign third party (see Prohibition on foreign third parties below)
  • a group, if a person responsible for the group is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident or lives in Canada

A "group" is an unincorporated trade union, trade association or other group of persons acting together by mutual consent for a common purpose. This could include a political party registered at the provincial, territorial or municipal level.

Two groups with related aims, such as two trade union locals of the same parent union, may both separately register as third parties. However, they are prohibited from colluding with each other to circumvent the limit on regulated expenses.

Note: A person, corporation or group can also register as a third party if they intend to conduct regulated activities with combined expenses totalling $500 or more. Registration cannot take place before the general election or by-election is called.

Registration process

How to register

A third party that is required to register with Elections Canada has to:

  • appoint a financial agent, who must sign a declaration accepting the appointment
  • appoint an auditor without delay, who must sign a declaration accepting the appointment, if the third party has incurred expenses totalling $10,000 or more for regulated activities conducted during the election period
  • submit the General Form—Third Party to Elections Canada

If the third party is a trade union, corporation or other entity with a governing body, the group must pass a resolution authorizing it to incur expenses for regulated activities and include a signed copy in its application to register.

For example, the resolution could read: "The board hereby authorizes <name of the third party> to incur expenses regulated by the Canada Elections Act during the election period for the election held on <election date>. This resolution was approved by the majority of the board members." A template can be obtained by contacting the Political Entities Support Network.

Elections Canada's verification of the application

Elections Canada reviews the application for registration to determine whether the third party can be registered. Applications are examined in the order in which they are received.

A third party will not be registered if:

  • the application does not meet the requirements of the Canada Elections Act, or
  • the name of the third party is likely to be confused with the name of another regulated entity, such as a:
    • registered or eligible political party
    • nomination contestant
    • potential candidate or candidate
    • leadership contestant
    • leader of a registered party, or
    • another registered third party

If a third party cannot be registered for any reason, Elections Canada will inform the person who signed the application for registration, explaining why and what steps must be taken. For example, they may need to submit a new application or simply provide missing information.

If the application is accepted, Elections Canada informs the person who signed the application for registration. Once registered, the person, corporation or group is referred to as a registered third party.

Registration is valid only for the election period in which the third party’s application was accepted.

Opening a bank account

A third party that is required to register must open a separate bank account for the sole purpose of its regulated activities. The account must be with a Canadian financial institution or certain authorized foreign banks, as defined by the Bank Act.

All financial transactions for regulated activities that involve the payment or receipt of money must go through this campaign account. If the third party intends to use its own funds to pay for regulated activities, it must deposit the funds from its general account into its campaign account.

Registry of Third Parties

Elections Canada maintains a Registry of Third Parties that includes all the details provided by registered third parties in their application and subsequent updates.

Note: When third parties become registered, their names and partial addresses are published on the Elections Canada website.

Prohibition on foreign third parties

The Canada Elections Act prohibits foreign third parties from participating in elections and incurring expenses for regulated activities that take place during an election period.

Type of third party It is a foreign third party if...
Individual The individual:
  • lives outside Canada, and
  • is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
Based on the definition above, please note the following:
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident living abroad can register and be active as a third party.
  • Someone living in Canada who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident can register and be active as a third party, but they cannot use their own funds to pay for regulated activities. No third party can pay for regulated activities using funds from an individual who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
Corporation or entity The corporation or entity was incorporated, formed or otherwise organized outside of Canada and also meets one of these conditions:
  • it does not carry on business in Canada, or
  • it carries on business in Canada, but its primary purpose in Canada during the election period is to influence electors to vote or refrain from voting, either in general or for a particular candidate or registered party
Group Of the people responsible for the group, none are Canadian citizens or permanent residents or live in Canada.