You are free to participate in political debates at any time by expressing your preferences and opinions, even if you do not have authorization, so long as it costs you nothing to do so. A free social media post (e.g., on Facebook or Twitter) is not considered an election expense, even if it is of a partisan nature. It is therefore allowed.
Rules governing interventions in the political debate
During an election period, if you plan to incur expenses associated with a political intervention, you must obtain private intervenor status. This status allows you to spend up to $300 on advertising over the course of the election period. The advertising must be for one of the following purposes:
- Expressing an opinion on a matter of public interest or seeking support for such an opinion
- Advocating abstention or the spoiling of ballots
As a private intervenor, you are required to pay for advertising out of your own funds or the funds of group members. The advertising must not directly or indirectly promote or oppose the election of any candidate. A private intervenor may not be or become a member of a political party during the election period.
Groups of electors
A group of electors may obtain private intervenor status if it is not incorporated and if the majority of its members are qualified electors. The group may not include any legal persons (businesses, associations, unions, etc.).
Members must designate one person from the group to represent them.
Advertising expenses must be paid by the authorized person(s). All associated costs paid by the private intervenor constitute advertising expenses. Such costs may include those related to the design, production, installation and broadcast of an advertisement, regardless of the technology or medium used.
A paid post on social media (e.g., Facebook or Twitter) must be treated as an advertising expense. However, a regular social media post that does not involve incurring any costs is not subject to measures for the control of election expenses or the rules governing the activities of private intervenors.
How to obtain authorization
To obtain authorization, you need to complete a form and submit it to the appropriate person.
- Provincial elections
To obtain authorization as a private intervenor, you need to complete the appropriate form, which is available in the “Forms and guides” section of our website.
In the context of a provincial election, you should submit the form to the returning officer of the electoral division corresponding to the domicile of the elector named in the application.
- Municipal elections (municipalities with a population of 5,000 or more)
To obtain authorization as a private intervenor, you need to complete the appropriate form and submit it to the municipality’s returning officer.
- School elections
To obtain authorization as a private intervenor, you need to complete the appropriate form and submit it to the returning officer of the school board for which you have the right to vote.