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Running for office

Summary

Want to become a candidate to represent the interests of your community and help citizens exercise their rights? Here are the rules you need to follow in order to comply with provincial, municipal, and school election laws.

Provincial

In this section

A person may run as a political party candidate or as an independent candidate. The process is the same, with one difference: independent candidates must obtain authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer if they want to solicit and collect contributions, contract loans, or incur expenses, even if these expenses are minimal and are paid for with their own money.

Running for office

With a few exceptions, if you are eligible to vote, you can run for office. You may run in only one electoral division per election.

Nomination paper forms are available from the head office of the returning officer in your electoral division. You can also use the online service to file a nomination paper. In addition to your name and contact information, you must provide the following information on the form:

  • The name of your official agent
  • The name of your political party, if you are a candidate of an authorized party
  • Your choice as to whether or not you want to be known as an independent, if you are not a candidate of an authorized political party

You must include the following documents with your nomination paper:

  • One photograph that meets the requirements set out in the application form
  • Your birth certificate or one of the following pieces of identification: your citizenship certificate, passport, driver's licence or health insurance card and, where applicable, a copy of your name change order
  • The signatures and home addresses of at least 100 electors whose names appear on the list of electors for the electoral division in which you are running. You or your agents must collect these signatures beforehand. We check these signatures against the list of electors produced at the time of the writ of election
  • If you are a candidate for a political party, you must provide a letter from the leader of your party recognizing you as the official candidate of their party in the electoral division in which you are running

To make sure you don't forget anything, you can:

Do not wait until the last minute to apply to be a candidate to ensure you have sufficient time to make corrections.

All candidates must be registered on the list of electors to be eligible. If you are not registered, the returning officer can add your name on the list. Find out about other ways to register.

To learn about the ethical principles and obligations of elected MNAs, consult the summary of the Principles and obligations under the Code of ethics and conduct of the members of the National Assembly (PDF) prepared by the Commissaire à l’éthique et à la déontologie.

Filing the nomination paper

Once the form is completed and the required documents are assembled and attached, you may file your nomination paper at the office of the returning officer:

  • No earlier than 2:00 p.m. on the second day after the writ of election
  • No later than 2:00 p.m. on the 16th day before election day

Running for candidate in an electoral division other than the one in which you live

Once the returning officer has accepted your candidacy, you can apply to change your registration on the list of electors to vote in the electoral division in which you are running. You can temporarily change your address to that of the office you use for your election activities.

Election contributions

All contributions must be accompanied by a slip on which the donor declares that they are making a contribution:

  • On their own behalf and out of their own assets
  • Voluntarily
  • Without compensation or consideration

They must also state that this contribution has not been, and will not be, reimbursed.

As a candidate, you can raise money to support your candidacy. However, you must ensure that the funds are collected in accordance with the Election Act.

Official representative: a key role

The official representative is responsible for collecting funds. This can be done by soliciting contributions from electors, organizing political or fundraising activities, or by taking out a loan. They must file a financial report in accordance with the requirements of the Election Act.

As a candidate, if you wish to raise money, you must have a canvasser's certificate signed by your official representative.

Profile of the official representative or official agent

Any person who meets the requirements for voting may become an official representative or official agent1. To ensure that they can perform their duties properly, Élections Québec provides them with mandatory training offered online. An official representative must complete this training within 30 days of their appointment and an official agent has 10 days to complete it. The official representative and official agent of an authorized independent candidate has 10 days to complete this training. As a candidate, this training allows you to familiarize yourself with the rules on political financing and the auditing of election expenses.

1 Unless the person is a candidate, party leader, election officer, or employee of an election officer.

Contributing to one’s own campaign

Like all electors, you may make contributions to your official representative. While the maximum amount of a contribution is $100 per year, you may contribute an additional amount of up to $100 during an election. Your official representative must give you a contribution slip for each contribution you make.

In a nutshell

The official representative:

  • Solicits and collects contributions
  • Appoints canvassers
  • Provides completed contribution slips with a declaration signed by the donor
  • Checks the compliance of contributions
  • Collects revenue from political or fundraising activities
  • Contracts loans
  • Pays annual interest on the loans
  • Produces a financial report, and where applicable, any additional financial reports

For more details on election contributions, please consult the Financing sources section of our website.

Election expenses

Offences committed with regard to the financing and auditing of election expenses are liable to criminal prosecution. They may result in fines and other penalties, including disqualification from voting, and being barred from running as a candidate or sitting in the National Assembly.

Any expenses incurred to promote your candidacy must comply with the requirements of the Election Act.

Authorization and payment of election expenses

The official agent authorizes and pays election expenses. This person may also be an official representative.

If you are a candidate of a political party, the official representative of the party (or of one of its party authorities) will make an election fund available to your official agent. This fund is made up of sums collected in accordance with the Act so that the official agent can pay your election expenses. All election expenses must be paid out of this election fund. You cannot pay election expenses yourself, except for certain personal expenses provided for in the Act.

Limits on election expenses

The expenses that your official agent incurs during the election period are limited according to certain criteria provided in the Election Act. For more information on this subject, please see the Limits on election expenses webpage.

Election expenses return

Within 90 days after election day, your official agent must file your election expenses return in accordance with the requirements of the Act (see Reports to be filed). If you are an authorized independent candidate, your official representative and official agent must also file financial reports with all your cash receipts on that same date.

Reimbursement of election expenses

Elected candidates and candidates who received at least 15% of the valid votes in their electoral division are entitled to a partial reimbursement of their election expenses.

In a nutshell

The official agent:

  • Incurs or authorizes all election expenses
  • Ensures that the payment of all election expenses is supported by an invoice and that it is paid at the going rate
  • Ensures that all advertising includes their name, title as official agent, and the name of the printer, where applicable
  • Respects the limit on election expenses
  • Produces the election expenses return.

For more details on election expenses, please see the Election expenses section.

Independent candidates

If you are an independent candidate, some special considerations apply to you.

Authorization

If you wish to solicit or collect contributions, incur election expenses, or contract loans through your official representative and official agent, you must first obtain authorization. To do so, you must complete the Application for authorization form or the Authorization for an independent candidate section of your nomination paper. This authorization may be granted by:

  • The Chief Electoral Officer, to any elector wanting to run as an independent candidate three years after receiving the list of candidates declared elected at the last general election or, in the case of a by-election, from the day on which the office becomes vacant
  • The returning officer of the electoral division, during the election period

If you apply for authorization before filing your nomination paper, you must have at least 100 signatures and addresses of electors who support you in the electoral division annexed to your application. You will not be able to use these same signatures for your nomination paper (see Running for office). However, an elector may sign both documents.

Information to be provided for the authorization

An independent candidate who wishes to obtain authorization must provide the following information:

  • Their name, home address, and phone number
  • The name of the electoral division in which they will be running
  • The address to which communications addressed to them should be sent
  • The address where the books and accounts of the candidate’s funds, expenses and loans will be kept
  • The name, address, and telephone number of their official representative

Independent candidates must make sure to update their information in the Register of authorized political entities of Québec.

Official representative and official agent

Your application for authorization provides for the appointment of an official representative. This person is also your official agent. Both of these roles will be critical to your election campaign.

Once you have obtained your authorization, the sums that your official representative and official agent collect in accordance with the Act will constitute your election fund.

Financing

As an independent candidate, you may:

  • Solicit or collect contributions, if authorized in writing by your official representative
  • Participate financially in your campaign by making a contribution to your official representative. This contribution must respect the annual limit ($100 per calendar year and $100 more during elections). The official representative must complete a contribution slip and have you sign the declaration
  • Lend money to your campaign or guarantee a loan

You may not:

  • Contract a loan: only your official representative can do so
  • Incur election expenses: only your official agent can do so. However, you can incur personal expenses
  • Pay an election expense yourself. Only your official agent can do so.

For more details, see Election contributions and Election expenses.

Duration of the authorization

The authorization of an independent candidate who is not elected expires no later than December 31 of the year following the election. After the election, this authorization is used to collect contributions to pay debts arising from election expenses already incurred.

The authorization of an elected independent candidate expires when they cease to sit in the National Assembly as an authorized independent Member, unless they run again as an authorized independent candidate.

Withdrawal of candidacy

If you wish to withdraw your candidacy, you must submit a declaration to that effect to the returning officer. You must sign this declaration, and have it signed by two electors from the electoral division in which you are a candidate.

  • If you are a candidate of a party, you may withdraw your candidacy 48 hours after notifying the leader.
  • If you are an authorized independent candidate and you withdraw before election day, your official representative may continue to collect contributions in order to pay the debts arising from election expenses already incurred.

Election

If you are elected, you will officially become a member of the National Assembly as soon as the Secretary General of the National Assembly receives the names of those declared elected from the Chief Electoral Officer. This declaration takes place approximately one week after election day.

Municipal

In this section

Choosing a position

In municipal elections, there are two types of positions: mayor and councillor. In municipalities divided into districts or wards, each councillor position is associated with a particular territory. In municipalities with universal suffrage, councillor positions are associated with a number.

A person can run for mayor or as councillor. They must select the position they want to run for before filing nomination papers. They cannot run for more than one position.

Eligibility

To run as a candidate, a person must:

  • Have the right to be registered on the municipal list of electors
  • Have resided in this territory (continuously or not) for at least 12 months as of one of the following dates:
    • in the case of a general election, September 1 of the calendar year in which the election is to be held
    • in the case of a by-election, the date the notice of election was issued

Forms

Nomination papers can be obtained from the office of the municipal returning officer.

Grouping

In municipalities with a population of fewer than 5,000 people, candidates may form a team recognized by the returning officer. In municipalities with a population of 5,000 people or more, candidates may run under the banner of an authorized political party.

Filing of nomination papers

Completed nomination papers must be filed between the 44th and 30th day before the date set for the election. Candidates must file their nomination papers with the office of the returning officer. The hours of operation for the office are specified on the public notice of election. Nomination papers are accepted until 4:30 p.m. on the last day.

Party candidates

Restrictions

Political party candidates may not solicit or collect contributions unless expressly authorized by the official representative of their party. They cannot contract loans or incur expenses.

Responsibilities of the official agent

The official agent of an authorized political party is responsible for carrying out various actions on behalf of the candidates of this party including:

  • Incurring and authorizing all party election expenses
  • Ensuring that all payments of election expenses are supported by an invoice and paid at the going rate
  • Ensuring that all advertising includes their name and title as official agent
  • Respecting the limit on election expenses

The official agent is responsible for all the election expenses of candidates. They must also file an election expense return.

Information pamphlet

Thinking of running for office?

We prepared a pamphlet that summarizes the steps you will have to follow, from the moment you declare your intention to run to the moment you are, hopefully, elected to office. Certain actions may be taken before the election period if you wish to run as an independent candidate.

Running for office in a municipality with a population of 5,000 people or more? Election financing and spending is your business! (PDF)

School

In this section

Choosing a position

A person may run as a candidate for only one position on a school board council per election, either as chair or commissioner. They may run in only one English-language school board and in only one electoral division of that board.

Eligibility

You don't have to be a homeowner or pay school taxes to run in a school election. However, a person must be eligible to have their name entered on the list of electors of the school board they are running for, and on polling day, have been domiciled in its territory for at least six months.

Form

The nomination paper form is available from the office of the returning officer of the English-language school board. The form must include the surname and first name of the candidate and their signature. It must also be supported by the signatures and residential addresses of at least 10 electors in the electoral division or, in the case of a nomination for the position of chair, of at least 50 electors from the school board concerned.

Filing the nomination paper

A person may file their completed nomination paper, along with the appropriate documents, with the office of the returning officer between the 40th and 35th day before the day set for the election. Please make sure to check the office’s days and hours of operation. Nomination papers are accepted until 5:00 p.m. on the last day for submission.

Formation of a recognized team

The Act respecting school elections prohibits the formation of political parties. However, candidates with common interests may form a team recognized by the returning officer.

To do so, the team must submit a written request for recognition to the returning officer within the prescribed time limit. The name of the team, where applicable, will appear below the name of the candidates on the ballot.

Responsibility of the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur

The Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur is responsible for the administration of the Act respecting school elections.

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