Quebec City, May 10, 2012– Concerning the by-election of June 11, 2012in the electoral divisions of Argenteuiland LaFontaine, Jacques Drouin, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, wishes to remind electors and candidates of the main rules included in the Election Act with respect to the control of election expenses and the soliciting of political contributions. It should be underlined from the outset that the rules concerning election expenses are in force as of now, i.e. the beginning of the electoral period, until the closing of polling stations onJune 11, 2012.
An election expense is the cost of a good or service used during an electoral period for purposes of promoting or opposing a candidate, whether directly or indirectly. During a by-election, political parties are not authorized to incur election expenses, and the equivalent of their expense limit is added to the candidates’ limit. The official agent is the only person empowered to incur or authorize election expenses. The expenses are limited and subject to control.
During the current by-election, candidates’ election expenses are limited to $1.88 per elector registered on the list of electors. For the electoral division ofArgenteuil, the preliminary expense limit has therefore been set at $84 075,72, when the preliminary expense expense limit for LaFontaine has been set at $78 903,68, based on the number of electors registered on the list of electors when the order instituting the by-election was issued. It should be pointed out that the electoral map used during the last general election has served to provide the number of electors.
Certain forms of publicity pertaining to the current election are prohibited from now untilMay 16, 2012inclusively. The prohibition includes, more specifically, the publication or dissemination of publicity messages by way of print or electronic media, in particular radio, television, newspapers and other periodicals, as well as publicity posters and billboards in spaces rented for this purpose. Electoral publicity disseminated or published in print or electronic media is also prohibited on Election day, i.e. onJune 11, 2012.
However, this prohibition does not prevent the official agent of a candidate from affixing posters, as of now, along roadways or pedestrian thoroughfares, or from distributing flyers. It should also be underlined that during the electoral period all publicity must be identified, as stipulated in the Election Act.
Authorization of independent candidates
Anyone wishing to participate in the current election as an “independent candidate” must obtain an authorization to do so from the Chief Electoral Officer, even those intending to pay all expenses related to their election themselves. In fact, every independent candidate must be authorized before soliciting or collecting contributions, contracting loans or incurring election expenses. In their application for authorization, independent candidates must designate someone to serve as their official representative and official agent.
The intervention of third parties in the electoral debate is forbidden
Remember that the provisions of the Election Act concerning election expenses prevent a legal person, for example, an association or a pressure group, from intervening in a campaign without their expenses being authorized by an official agent. Therefore, he is the only person who may incur or authorize publicity expenses for the purposes of promoting or opposing the election of a candidate. These regulations are aimed at ensuring the equality of the electoral power of each elector, the equality of opportunities between parties and candidates, as well as the equality of the electoral process. In a decision handed down last January, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed the constitutionality of these provisions and also recognized the primacy of the principles which are at the heart of Québec’s system of election expense controls. For more information on this decision from the Supreme Court, you can consult the press release issued by the DGEQ onJanuary 12, 2012.
The status of private intervenor
A private intervenor may incur publicity expenses, the total of which may not exceed $300, from his or her own property, to convey a message that the intervenor intends to put forward during the electoral period. However, the law prohibits the latter from making or incurring expenses jointly with any other person or entity, whether another private intervenor, a political party, a candidate, or otherwise.
Although a private intervenor may make his or her views known concerning a matter of public interest, or advocate abstention or the spoiling of ballots, he or she may not directly promote or oppose a candidate or party, or be a member of a party, or act directly on behalf of a candidate or a party.
In order to obtain this status, the elector or group representative must receive prior authorization from the returning officer of his or her electoral division. Concerning the by-elections of June 11, 2012, the application for authorization must be filed from May 15 to 29, 2012. Forms designed for this purpose are available under the heading “Forms” on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.
The electoral period can also be an opportunity for candidates and parties to collect contributions. Every contribution must be made by an individual elector out of his or her own property. These contributions must be made voluntarily, without compensation and for no consideration, and may not be reimbursed by a third party in any way. Consequently, legal persons, i.e. companies, unions, or partnerships of any form, may not contribute to the financing of political parties or authorized independent candidates. Moreover, it is important to highlight the following rules and procedures, which are in force at all times:
– a contribution may be made only to the Chief Electoral Officer for the benefit of an authorized entity; canvassing may be done only under the supervision of the official representative of a party, a party authority or an authorized independent candidate, or, if applicable, of any other person designated in writing by the official representative for this purpose;
– the Chief Electoral Officer will then transmit the contribution to the party or the candidate for which or for whom it is intended;
– every contribution must be accompanied by a contribution slip, including, in particular, a declaration signed by the elector;
– a cash contribution of $100 or more must be made by cheque or other order of payment signed by the elector and drawn on his or her account in a financial institution having an office in Québec. A contribution may also be made, in compliance with the directives of the Chief Electoral Officer, by means of a credit card; and
– the total of contributions made by the same elector to each of the political parties and authorized independent candidates may not exceed $1,000 during the same calendar year.
For more information concerning the new rules governing the financing of parties and candidates, please visit the special information page accessible on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer at http://www.electionsquebec.qc.ca/francais/nouvelles-regles-financement-politique/.
A directive governs the holding of public assemblies by non-partisan and partisan organizations during the electoral period. This directive, along with numerous points of information concerning the rules governing financing, is available on the website of the Chief Electoral Officer at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.
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