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Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC 20155) – November 2019

Note: This handbook is to be used for elections called on or after June 13, 2019. For earlier elections, please use the February 2018 version of the handbook.

1. Reference Tables and Timelines

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

  • Starting the candidate's campaign
  • Important deadlines for the candidate's campaign
  • Role and appointment process—official agent
  • Role and appointment process—auditor
  • Closing the candidate's campaign
  • Limits on contributions, loans and loan guarantees
  • Transfers—types and rules
  • Important reminders for candidates and their official agents

Starting the candidate's campaign

Appoint official agent and auditor

The candidate must appoint an official agent before doing any of the following:

  • accepting a contribution, loan or transfer
  • incurring an electoral campaign expense
  • filing their nomination paper

The candidate can appoint an auditor right away, but it is not a requirement. An auditor must be appointed without delay after:

  • contributions totalling $10,000 or more are accepted
  • electoral campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more are incurred, or
  • the candidate receives 10% or more of the valid votes cast in their electoral district

Open bank account

The official agent has to open a separate bank account to be used exclusively for the candidate's campaign. This could happen before or after the candidate's nomination is confirmed or before an election is called. Note that the requirement to open a bank account exists whether or not there are financial transactions.

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

The official agent must be named as the account holder, as follows: (name), official agent. For example: "Peter Raymond, official agent".

It is also acceptable to add the candidate's name to the name of the bank account. For example: "Peter Raymond, official 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.

Establish internal controls for election expenses

The official agent must provide written authorization to the candidate and others before they can incur election expenses.

The campaign will need an expense approval process to monitor election expenses and ensure that the limit is not exceeded. A campaign budget will also help to manage finances effectively.

Start incurring expenses and accepting contributions, loans or transfers

The campaign can start incurring expenses and accepting contributions, loans or transfers before the election is called as long as the campaign has an official agent, an auditor and a bank account.

Keep in mind that tax receipts cannot be issued for contributions received before the candidate is officially confirmed by the returning officer.


Important deadlines for the candidate's campaign

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

Candidate's campaign starts

ELECTION CALLED

Nomination deadline

Submit nomination paper to returning officer by 2 p.m. on 21st day before election day

ELECTION DAY

1 month after

Return tax receipts to Elections Canada (if applicable)note 4

3 months after

Official agent receives from candidate:

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

4 months after

Official agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return (with all required documents)
  • Candidate's Statement of Expenses (with all supporting documents)
  • Auditor's report and Checklist for Audits

Candidate sends Elections Canada:

  • Candidate's Statement of Gifts and Other Advantages Received (if applicable)note 5

19 months after

Official agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Candidate's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Election Day (if applicable)note 6

37 months after

Official agent sends Elections Canada:

  • Candidate's Statement of Unpaid Claims and Loans 18 or 36 Months After Election Day (if applicable)note 6

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

Note 2 Required before contributions, transfers or loans are accepted or expenses are incurred.

Note 3 Must be appointed without delay after contributions totalling $10,000 or more are accepted, electoral campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more are incurred, or the candidate receives 10% or more of the valid votes cast in their electoral district.

Note 4 If paper tax receipts were obtained from Elections Canada, the official agent has to return all unused or cancelled tax receipts as well as a copy of each used tax receipt to Elections Canada.

Note 5 Required if gifts or other advantages received from any one entity exceed a total of $500.

Note 6 Required if the campaign has unpaid claims and loans.

Role and appointment process—official agent

Candidate's official agent

Role summary
  • The official agent is responsible for administering the campaign's financial transactions and reporting those transactions to Elections Canada as required by the Canada Elections Act.
  • The candidate may have only one official agent at a time.
  • The official agent's role continues until the candidate'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
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 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
Any other person or group not mentioned above No
Appointment process
  • The candidate has to appoint an official agent before they can accept contributions, loans or transfers, incur electoral campaign expenses, or file their nomination paper—whichever comes first.
  • The official agent has to sign a statement consenting to act in that capacity. The statement has to be submitted to the local returning officer with the candidate's nomination paper.
  • If for any reason the official agent is no longer able to continue in that role, the candidate must appoint a new official agent without delay and notify Elections Canada of the new appointment. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new official agent.

Role and appointment process—auditor

Candidate's auditor

Role summary
  • In accordance with generally accepted auditing standards, the auditor has to examine the candidate's financial records and give an opinion in a report as to whether the candidate's 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 candidate, and may require the candidate or the candidate's official agent to provide any information or explanation that is necessary to enable the auditor to prepare the report.
  • The auditor's report has to include a completed checklist for audits in the prescribed form.
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
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
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 candidate has to appoint an auditor without delay after contributions totalling $10,000 or more are accepted, electoral campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more are incurred, or the candidate receives 10% or more of the valid votes cast in their electoral district.
  • 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 candidate must appoint a new auditor without delay and notify Elections Canada about the new appointment. The notice has to include a signed consent from the new auditor.

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

Closing the candidate's campaign

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

See the Reporting obligations after election day and Additional reporting tables in Chapter 15, Reporting.
Receive reimbursements and subsidies Elections Canada administers certain funds that are distributed after election day to eligible candidates. These include:
  • reimbursement installments of paid election expenses and certain other expenses
  • payment of the auditor's subsidy
See Chapter 16, Reimbursements and Subsidies.
Manage unpaid claims and loans Claims and loans should be paid within 36 months after election day.

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

See Chapter 17, Managing Unpaid Claims and Loans.
File amended return(s) An amended candidate'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 candidate or official agent.

See the Additional reporting table in Chapter 15, 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 process for disposing of the surplus depends on whether the candidate was endorsed by a registered party or ran as an independent or non-affiliated candidate.

See Chapter 18, Disposing of Surplus.
Close bank account Once all unpaid claims, loans, other financial obligations and any surplus have been dealt with, the official agent has to close the campaign bank account.

The official 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 2019 annual limit Limit per election called between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019
To each registered party $1,600* n/a
In total to all the registered associations, nomination contestants and candidates of each registered party $1,600* n/a
In total to all leadership contestants in a particular contest $1,600* n/a
To each independent candidate n/a $1,600*

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 $1,600* 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 $1,600* 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

Before election day
DO DON'T
  • Appoint an official agent, who must open a bank account to be used exclusively for the campaign before any contribution, transfer or loan is accepted or any expense is incurred.
  • Appoint an auditor who is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services (CPA designation) without delay after:
    • accepting contributions totalling $10,000 or more, or
    • incurring electoral campaign expenses totalling $10,000 or more
  • Ensure that only the official agent accepts contributions.
  • Know the election expenses limit for the electoral district. It is published on the Elections Canada website in the Political Participants section.
  • Ensure that only the official agent or authorized persons incur electoral campaign expenses. The candidate must be authorized in writing to incur election expenses. Any other person must be authorized in writing to incur electoral 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.
  • Place election advertising, with a mention that it is authorized by the official agent. For example: "Authorized by the official agent of [candidate's name]."
  • 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 official agent or authorized persons to incur electoral campaign expenses.
  • Do not issue tax receipts for contributions received before the candidate is officially confirmed by the returning officer.
  • Do not allow anyone other than the official agent to pay for electoral 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, the registered party, a registered association of the registered party, or an individual who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada.
  • Do not accept loan guarantees from any source other than the registered party, a registered association of the registered party, or 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 official agent can pay expenses out of petty cash. The candidate can pay their personal expenses, travel and living expenses, and litigation expenses.



After election day
DO DON'T
  • If the candidate received 10% or more of the valid votes cast in their electoral district and an auditor was not already appointed, appoint an auditor who is accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services (CPA designation) without delay.
  • If the campaign obtained paper tax receipts from Elections Canada, return them within 1 month after election day, including unused receipts and copies of receipts that were issued.
  • Provide the Candidate's Statement of Expenses to the official agent no later than 3 months after election day even if it is a nil statement.
  • Pay all claims and loans within 36 months after election day. After that time, an authorization from Elections Canada or a judge will be required for late payments.
  • Submit the Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return and related documents within 4 months after election day.
  • Submit all loan, overdraft and line of credit conditions, including repayment schedules, with the candidate's return.
  • If the campaign had to appoint an auditor, allow them sufficient time before the submission deadline to review financial documents and prepare the audit report.
  • 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 election 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, the final reimbursement has been received (if applicable) and any surplus has been disposed of.