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Political Financing Handbook for Registered Parties and Chief Agents (EC 20231) – July 2015 – Archived Content

This document is Elections Canada's archived guideline OGI 2015-01 and is no longer in effect.

An updated version of this document is available in Tools for Political Parties.

Chapter 2 – Roles and Responsibilities

This chapter covers the following topics:

Introduction

A political party must appoint a leader and at least three officers, as well as a chief agent and an auditor, before applying for registration. In addition, a party may later appoint registered agents to perform certain financial tasks. This chapter discusses these mandatory and optional appointments and the responsibilities of the appointees.

2.1 Mandatory appointments

Party leader

The party must appoint a leader before applying for registration. The party leader must be an individual who is eligible to vote and is a resident of Canada.

Appointment process

If for any reason a leader is no longer able to continue in that role, the party must select a new leader. If a registered party decides to hold a leadership contest, the chief agent of the party must notify Elections Canada about the start and end dates of the contest. A notice with that information is then published on the Elections Canada website.

The party must notify Elections Canada of the new appointment within 30 days after the appointment. The report must include a copy of the resolution of the party to appoint the new leader, certified by the new leader and another officer of the party.

The leader's responsibilities and obligations

The party leader's responsibilities include:

  • signing the declaration on the General Form Political Party
  • signing the declaration on the Provincial and Territorial Divisions of a Registered Party
  • signing the authorization so that a registered association of the party may issue tax receipts for contributions
  • signing the application for deregistration
  • signing the application for merger

Officers

An eligible party or a registered party must have at least three officers in addition to the leader of the party.

Eligibility

An individual who is eligible to vote and is a resident of Canada can become an officer of an eligible or a registered party.

Appointment process

The General Form – Political Party must include the names and addresses of the officers as well as their signed consent to act in that capacity.

An eligible party or a registered party must have at least three officers in addition to the party leader. If for any reason an officer is no longer able to continue in that role, and the number of officers (including the party leader) is less than four, the party must appoint a new officer within 30 days. The party must notify Elections Canada of the new appointment within 30 days after the appointment. The report must include a signed consent from the new officer.

Chief agent

The party must appoint a chief agent before applying for registration.

The chief agent of a registered party is responsible for administering its financial transactions and for reporting them as required by the Canada Elections Act.

An eligible party or a registered party may have only one chief agent at a time.

Eligibility

Who can become a chief agent of an eligible or a registered party?

  • an individual who is eligible to vote and is a resident of Canada
  • a corporation incorporated under the laws of Canada or a province

Who is not eligible to act as chief agent?

  • a candidate
  • an election officer or a member of the staff of a returning officer
  • an undischarged bankrupt
  • an auditor appointed as required by the Canada Elections Act
  • an individual who is not an elector
  • a person who does not have the capacity to enter into contracts in the province or territory in which the person ordinarily resides
Appointment process

The party's application for registration must include the name and address of the chief agent and a signed consent from the chief agent to act in that capacity.

If for any reason the chief agent is no longer able to continue in that role, the party must appoint a new chief agent without delay. The party must notify Elections Canada of the new appointment within 30 days. The report must include a signed consent from the new chief agent.

The chief agent's responsibilities and obligations
  • The chief agent of a registered party is responsible for administering the party's financial transactions and for reporting them in accordance with the Canada Elections Act.
  • Only the chief agent and authorized registered agents can accept contributions or loans on the registered party's behalf.
  • Only the chief agent and authorized registered agents can accept or send transfers on the registered party's behalf.
  • Only the chief agent and authorized registered agents can issue receipts for contributions.
  • Only the chief agent and authorized registered agents can incur the registered party's expenses.
  • Only the chief agent, authorized registered agents or a person authorized by the chief agent can pay the registered party's expenses.
  • The chief agent is responsible for submitting financial returns as required by the Canada Elections Act.
Best practices for financial management

It is strongly recommended that the chief agent put in place effective controls for monitoring election expenses to ensure that the expenses limit is not exceeded. One good practice is to introduce a purchase requisition form that requires every purchase to be authorized by the chief agent.

Although a campaign budget is not mandatory, it is highly advisable to create one. Creating a budget helps the campaign to control, oversee and communicate about election expenditures. The chief agent should insist that he or she be kept informed of the financial transactions of the campaign, and should intervene to address any non-compliance in a timely fashion.

Auditor

The party must appoint an auditor before applying for registration. An eligible party or a registered party may have only one auditor at a time.

Eligibility

Who can become an auditor?

  • a person who is a member in good standing of a corporation, an association or an institute of provincially incorporated professional accountants
  • a partnership of which every partner is a member in good standing of a corporation, an association or an institute of provincially incorporated professional accountants
  • provincially incorporated professional accounting designations include: Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

Who is not eligible to be an auditor?

  • a candidate, as well as the official agent of that candidate or any other candidate
  • an election officer or a member of the staff of the returning officer
  • the chief agent of a registered party or an eligible party
  • an officer of a registered party or an eligible party
  • a registered agent of a registered party
  • electoral district agents of registered associations
  • leadership contestants, their financial agents and leadership campaign agents
  • nomination contestants and their financial agents
  • financial agents of registered third parties
Appointment process

The party's application for registration must include the name and address of the auditor and a signed consent from the auditor to act in that capacity.

If for any reason the auditor is no longer able to continue in that role, the party must appoint a new auditor without delay. The party must notify Elections Canada of the new appointment within 30 days. The report must include a signed consent from the new auditor.

The auditor's responsibilities and obligations

The auditor has a right to access all documents of the party, and may require the chief agent to provide any information or explanation that is necessary to enable the auditor to prepare the report.

The auditor's report is required for the party's annual financial return as well as for the party's return in respect of general election expenses.

In accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, the auditor has to examine the party's financial records and give an opinion in a report as to whether the party's financial return presents the information contained in the financial records on which it is based.

The auditor's report has to include any statement the auditor considers necessary if:

  • the financial return does not present fairly and in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards the information contained in the financial records on which it is based
  • if the auditor has not received all of the information and explanations that the auditor required
  • based on the examination, it appears that the registered party has not kept proper financial records

Note: In addition, when preparing a report on the Registered Party Return in Respect of General Election Expenses, the auditor must include a statement if based on the auditor's examination it appears that the registered party and the chief agent have not complied with the requirements of sections 363 to 445 of the Canada Elections Act.

2.2 Optional appointments

Registered agents

A registered party may appoint registered agents, who are authorized to accept contributions, or incur and pay expenses on behalf of the party.

A registered party may have any number of registered agents.

Eligibility

Eligibility requirements for this role are the same as for the role of the chief agent. In addition, the party has to specify the terms and conditions of the appointment(s) (e.g. as a best practice, the party may want to establish limits on amounts registered agents are authorized to incur).

Appointment process

An eligible party or a registered party may appoint agents or registered agents at any time.

Within 30 days after a party becomes eligible for registration, the eligible party must provide Elections Canada with a written report certified by the party leader or the chief agent, listing the names and addresses of the persons appointed as agents and specifying the terms and conditions of the appointments.

Within 30 days after the appointment of registered agents, the registered party must notify Elections Canada in a report certified by the party leader or the chief agent. The written report lists the names and addresses of the new registered agents and specifies the terms and conditions of the appointments.

Elections Canada enters the information in the Registry of Political Parties.

The registered agent's responsibilities and obligations

Authorized registered agents may perform one or all of the following tasks:

  • accept contributions or loans on the registered party's behalf
  • accept or send transfers on the registered party's behalf
  • issue receipts for contributions
  • incur or pay the registered party's expenses