The Act respecting political party leadership campaigns, adopted by the National Assembly in December 2011, stipulates that leadership races of political parties are subject to a legal framework. Accordingly, there are rules for candidates concerning the financing and auditing of campaign expenses. These rules are now included in the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities (AERM).
The main objective of these new provisions is to make leadership races more transparent. To this end, information concerning contributions and contributors is made available on our website, and candidates' expenses are recorded in reports that are disclosed to the general public.
Infractions are outlined and fines provided for when the rules are not followed.
Only an elector residing in the municipality may make a contribution for the benefit of one or more of the candidates in a party leadership race. The contribution made by the elector must be accompanied by a contribution receipt and be made from his own assets, voluntarily, without compensation or for a consideration, and involve no form of reimbursement.
The maximum allowable amount is $300 per elector during the same leadership race. The candidate may contribute an additional $700 to his or her own campaign. Contributions of $100 and over must be paid by cheque or other payment order made payable to the candidate.
Furthermore, when an elector makes a contribution to a leadership race campaign, it is a contribution to a candidate, not to the party. This contribution, therefore, has no impact on the annual amount of $300 that an elector may donate to the party during the calendar year.
Contributions of $100 and over are publicly disclosed. No later than five days after receiving a contribution, we will post on our website the contributor's name, the city in which he resides, the residential postal code, the contribution amount and the name of the candidate for whom the contribution was made.
The income tax credit for these donations is the same as for donations to candidates and municipal parties, but is not available on top of the income tax credit granted for a "regular" donation to a political party.
A financial representative may contract a loan from a financial institution or from an elector to cover campaign expenses. To do so requires prior written authorization by the candidate for the loan in question.
An elector may stand surety for the loan. The total amount of loans and suretyships granted by an elector may not exceed $10,000.
Campaign expenses for a party leadership race are expenses incurred for the purpose of the race, by a candidate's financial representative and the party's official representative.
Under the AERM, unlike election expenses, there is no ceiling on leadership campaign expenses. The political party may, however, establish an expense ceiling for all of its candidates.
Moreover, leadership campaign expenses are not reimbursed by the municipality, as is currently the case for election expenses.
The financial representative has 12 months following the day of the vote to settle any claims and pay off any loans. We may, however, grant an extension of up to 24 months following the first deadline.
On the expiry of the periods granted to pay off loans and settle debts, any unpaid balance shall be considered a contribution by the candidate to his own campaign. The candidate also becomes solely responsible for his campaign debts.
Within 90 days following the vote, the financial representatives of the candidates are required to file a campaign revenue and expense report with the official representative of the party.
Within 120 days following the vote, the official representative of the party must file a report with us on the expenses arising from the administration of the party leadership race. This report shall include all the reports received by the official representative from the financial representatives. The reports are then made public.
In case of any outstanding debts after the filing of the first report, the candidate’s financial representative must produce an additional report every three months until repayment of the debt or expiry of the time limit.
Infractions pertaining to political party leadership races are similar to those for regular political party financing.
We may investigate the application of the rules relating to leadership races, on our own initiative or when an individual makes such a request. In the case of infractions resulting in a plea or a conviction, penalties may be imposed, including fines.