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Understanding political financing

Obtaining authorization

Summary

To obtain authorization to solicit or receive contributions, incur expenses or contract loans, political parties, party authorities, independent candidates, independent MNAs, electors undertaking to run as independent candidates, and private intervenors must comply with the conditions given in the law.

Provincial

In this section

This page outlines how to apply for authorization as an independent candidate or private intervenor, for authorization of a political party or to reserve a party name.

Political party

Application for authorization

A political party that wishes to solicit or collect contributions, incur expenses or contract loans must first obtain authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer. The approval process is not binding. It is not intended to monitor or evaluate the party’s platforms and policies.

Duration of the authorization

A political party’s authorization remains valid as long as it pays its bills within six months of receipt, pays interest annually and files the information and returns required by the Election Act.

Withdrawal of authorization

If a political party fails to meet its obligations under the Election Act, the Chief Electoral Officer may revoke its authorization.

Absence of a candidate in an election

An authorized political party that does not present a candidate in a general election or by-election may choose to act as a private intervenor. In that case, they must notify the Chief Electoral Officer.

Procedure

To apply for a political party authorization, you must obtain the Application for authorization of a provincial political party form and the Signature of support from a member of the party – Application for the authorization of a provincial political party slips, which are used to collect signatures of support from your party members. Please contact us for more information.

Application for authorization of a provincial political party

You must complete this form with the following information:

  • The party's name
  • The address and telephone number of the party leader
  • The name, address and telephone number of at least two executive officers of the party, other than the leader
  • The address to which communications to the party should be sent
  • The address where the books and accounts of the party’s funds, expenses and loans will be kept
  • The name, address and telephone number of the official representative of the party
  • The name of the party’s auditor
  • The address of the party’s permanent office, where applicable

Deposit

A $500 deposit is required with the application for authorization. This deposit will be refunded when the party’s first financial report is filed, or when its closing financial report is filed.

Signatures of support from party members

An application for authorization of a political party must be accompanied by signature slips including the name, address, membership card number and expiry date, and signatures of electors who support the application and who are members of the party. The minimum number of signatures required is 100.

Verification of the information provided

The information presented on an application for authorization and each signature slip will be carefully examined. To avoid a delay in processing your application, please make sure that the form and accompanying slips are properly completed and legible.

Reserving a name

Before applying for authorization, a prospective political party may reserve a name in writing. This step is not essential to the application for authorization. However, many parties opt to do so.

Duration of the reservation

Name reservation applications are valid for a maximum period of six months.

Changing the reserved name

The party may change the name it reserved when applying for authorization.

Independent candidates

Independent candidates must obtain authorization to solicit or receive contributions, incur election expenses or contract loans.

The Chief Electoral Officer may grant authorization to any elector who would like to run as an independent candidate under the following conditions:

  1. It must be three years since receipt of the list of candidates declared elected in the last general election.
  2. From the date a vacancy occurs, in the case of a by-election.

The returning officer may also grant authorization during the election period.

Procedure

Before the election period, an elector who wishes to become a candidate may apply for authorization by filling out the requisite form and sending it to the Chief Electoral Officer. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this form. Please note: this form is not a nomination paper. You must fill out a nomination paper when the time arrives and submit it to the person responsible.

During an election period, the returning officer of your electoral division can provide you with this form.

Required information

An independent candidate seeking 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 also update their information in the Register of authorized political entities of Québec (RAPEQ).

Financing

Authorized independent candidates may:

  • Solicit or receive contributions if expressly authorized by their official representative.
  • Participate financially in their campaign by making one or more contributions to their official representative—up to a maximum of $100 per year. They may pay an additional $100 in a by-election or in the same year as a general election. For each contribution made, the candidate must submit a copy of the completed and signed contribution slip to their official representative.
  • Lend money for their campaign or guarantee a loan, up to a maximum of $25,000.

They may not:

  • Borrow funds: only their official representative may do so.
  • Incur election expenses: only the official agent of the candidate may incur election expenses. However, they may incur personal expenses.
  • Pay for election expenses themselves: only the candidate’s official agent can do so.

Role of the official representative and official agent

The official representative of the authorized independent candidate must also be their official agent. Both of these roles are of paramount importance in a candidate’s election campaign.

The role of the official representative is to:

  • Solicit and receive contributions
  • Ensure that contribution slips are properly completed for each contribution and forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer
  • Ensure compliance with contribution regulations
  • Collect revenues from political activities or events
  • Contract loans
  • Pay the annual interest on loans
  • Produce the financial report, and where applicable, an additional financial report

The role of the official agent is to:

  • Incur or authorize election expenses
  • Authorize a publicity agency to incur or order election expenses
  • Ensure that any payment of election expenses is supported by an invoice and that the product or service is sold at the going market price
  • Ensure that all publicity includes the name and title of the official agent
  • Ensure that the limit on election expenses is respected
  • Assume all responsibilities related to election expenses
  • Produce the election expenses return

Duration of the authorization

An authorization granted to an independent candidate who has not been elected expires on December 31 of the year following the election year.

An elected independent candidate’s authorization expires when they lose their seat as an independent Member of the National Assembly, unless they run again as an independent candidate.

Member who becomes an independent

Application for authorization

A Member who becomes an independent without having been elected as such must obtain authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer to solicit or receive contributions, incur election expenses or contract loans.

Procedure

A Member who wishes to obtain authorization as an independent Member must complete the requisite form and send it to the Chief Electoral Officer. Please contact us to receive a copy of this form.

Required information

A Member who becomes an independent and wishes to obtain authorization must provide the following information:

  1. Their name, home address and phone number
  2. The address to which communications addressed to them should be sent
  3. The address where the books and accounts relating to the contributions made and the expenses incurred by the applicant will be kept
  4. The name, address and telephone number of their official representative

Rights and obligations of an independent member

Once authorized, the Member who becomes independent and their official representative have the same rights and obligations as an independent candidate and their official representative regarding financing and election expenses.

A Member who becomes independent must make sure that the information concerning them is updated in the Register of authorized political entities of Québec.

Duration of the authorization

The authorization of the Member who becomes independent expires when they lose their seat as an independent Member of the National Assembly, unless they run again as an independent candidate.

Private intervenor

A private intervenor is an elector or group of electors who intend to incur publicity expenses during an election period to make their opinion known on a matter of public interest, to obtain support for such an opinion, or to advocate abstention or spoiling of ballots. Their interventions must not directly favour or disadvantage any candidate or party.

Procedure

In order to obtain authorization as a private intervenor, the requisite form provided must first be completed and submitted. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this form.

In a provincial election, this form must be submitted to the returning officer for the electoral division in which the elector resides.

Elector or group of electors

A private intervenor may be anyone who qualifies as an elector. It may also be a group that is not constituted into a legal person and is composed of physical persons—the majority of whom are qualified electors. The physical persons in such a group act together in pursuit of a common goal.

When a private intervenor is a group, its members must designate a representative from among the electors of the group.

A private intervenor cannot become a member of a political party during the election period.

Procedure

To obtain authorization as a private intervenor, you must complete and submit the requisite form, which is available on our website under Forms and guides.

In a provincial election, this form must be sent to the returning officer for the electoral division in which the elector resides.

Political party

An authorized political party that does not present any candidates during a general or by-election and that would like to act as a private intervenor must notify the Chief Electoral Officer.

It is deemed to hold authorization as a private intervenor from the date of reception of the notice. An authorization number will be assigned to them.

Municipal

In this section

This page outlines how to apply for authorization as an independent candidate or private intervenor, for authorization of a political party or to reserve a party name.

Political party

Application for authorization

A political party that wishes to solicit or collect contributions, incur expenses or contract loans must obtain authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer if it operates in a municipality with a population of 5,000 people or more. The approval process is not binding. It is not intended to monitor or evaluate the party’s platforms and policies.

Duration of the authorization

A political party’s authorization remains valid as long as it pays its bills within six months of receipt, pays interest annually and files the information and returns required by the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities.

Withdrawal of authorization

If a political party fails to meet its obligations under the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the Chief Electoral Officer may revoke its authorization.

Procedure

To apply for a political party authorization, you must first obtain the Application for authorization of a municipal political party form and the Signature of support from a member of the party - Application for authorization of a municipal political party slips, which are used to collect signatures of support from your party members. Please contact us for more information.

Application for authorization of a municipal political party

You must complete this form with the following information:

  • The party's name
  • The address and telephone number of the party leader
  • The name, address and telephone number of at least two executive officers of the party, other than the leader
  • The address to which communications to the party should be sent
  • The address where the books and accounts of the party’s funds, expenses and loans will be kept
  • The name, address and telephone number of the official representative
  • The name of the party’s auditor
  • The address of the party’s permanent office, where applicable
  • The name of the municipality in which the party intends to operate

Signature of support from party members

An application for authorization of a political party must be accompanied by signature slips including the name, address, membership card number and expiry date, and signatures of electors who support the application and who are members of the party.  The party must provide:

  • 100 signatures if it operates in a municipality with a population of 100,000 people or more
  • 50 signatures if it operates in a municipality with a population of 50,000 people or more but fewer than 100,000
  • 25 signatures if it operates in a municipality with a population of 5,000 people or more but fewer than 50,000

Verification of the information provided

The information presented on an application for authorization and each signature slip will be carefully examined. To avoid a delay in processing your application, please make sure that the form and accompanying slips are properly completed and legible.

Processing time

The application process for the authorization of municipal political party varies from a few weeks to about a month.

Reserving a name

Before applying for authorization, a prospective political party may reserve a name in writing. This step is not essential to the application for authorization.

Duration of the reservation

Name reservation applications are valid for a maximum period of six months.

Changing the reserved name

The party may change the name it reserved when applying for authorization.

Recommendations

The name of the political party must not contain the word independent and must not be likely to mislead electors as to which party they are supporting. Before choosing the name of the party, please consult the list of authorized municipal political parties and the list of reserved names.

Independent candidates

An independent candidate who wants to run for office in a municipality with a population of 5,000 or more must obtain authorization to solicit or receive contributions, incur election expenses or contract loans.

The returning officer of the municipality will grant this authorization to any elector who undertakes to run as an independent candidate:

  • Starting January 1 of the year preceding the year in which a general election is to be held.
  • From the date a vacancy occurs, in the case of a by-election.

 

According to section 70 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities, the clerk or secretary-treasurer of the municipality shall act as returning officer. Please contact this person to obtain authorization.

The assistant returning officer who is authorized to receive nomination papers may also grant permission during the election period.

Procedure

To apply for authorization, fill in the form provided and forward it to the returning officer of your municipality. If you are your own official agent and official representative, you must indicate your name in section 3 of the form.

You can also apply for authorization when you submit your nomination paper by completing the appropriate section on the form.

Information required

The independent candidate must designate an official representative and update their information in the Register of authorized political entities. Independent candidates may appoint themselves as their official representative.

Financing

Authorized independent candidates may:

  • Loan up to $5,000 to their campaign (loan and surety bond).
  • Solicit or receive contributions if expressly authorized by their official representative.
  • Participate financially in their campaign by making one or more contributions to their official representative—up to a maximum of $100 per year. They may contribute an additional $100 in a by-election or in the same year as a general election and $800 after their nomination paper has been accepted. In total, they can therefore contribute up to $1,000 to their campaign. Their official representative must provide them with a receipt for each contribution made.

They may not:

  • Contract loans: only their official representative may do so.
  • Incur election expenses: only the official agent of the candidate may incur election expenses. However, they may incur personal expenses.

Role of the official representative and official agent

The official representative of the authorized independent candidate must also be their official agent. Both of these roles are of paramount importance in a candidate’s election campaign.

The person in these roles is required to complete training on the rules regarding political financing and election expenses within 10 days of their appointment. This training is provided by Élections Québec.

The role of the official representative is to:

  • Receive and deposit contributions
  • Ensure that contribution receipts are issued to contributors
  • Ensure compliance with contribution regulations
  • Deposit the money collected from political activities or events
  • Contract loans
  • Pay the annual interest on loans
  • Produce the financial report, and where applicable, an additional financial report

The role of the official representative is to:

  • Incur or authorize election expenses
  • Authorize a publicity agency to incur or order election expenses
  • Ensure that any payment of election expenses is supported by an invoice and that the product or service is sold at the going market price
  • Ensure that all publicity includes the name and title of the official agent
  • Ensure that the limit on election expenses is respected
  • Assume all responsibilities related to election expenses
  • Produce the election expenses return

Duration of the authorization

The authorization granted to an independent candidate expires on December 31 of the second calendar year following the election year.

The authorization of an independent candidate who is elected and who, on that date, has not paid all the debts arising from his election expenses, expires the day of transmission of the financial report confirming that all debts have been paid.

Private intervenor

A private intervenor is an elector or group of electors who intend to incur publicity expenses during an election period to make their opinion known on a matter of public interest, to obtain support for such an opinion, or to advocate abstention or spoiling of ballots. Their interventions must not directly favour or disadvantage any candidate or party.

Procedure

To obtain authorization as a private intervenor, a form must be filled out and submitted to the municipality’s returning officer.

Elector or group of electors

A private intervenor may be anyone who qualifies as an elector. It may also be a group that is not constituted into a legal person and is composed of physical persons—the majority of whom are qualified electors. The physical persons in such a group act together in pursuit of a common goal.

When a private intervenor is a group, its members must designate a representative from among the electors of the group.

A private intervenor cannot become a member of a political party during the election period.

Political party

An authorized political party that does not present any candidates during a general or by-election and that would like to act as a private intervenor must notify the municipality’s returning officer. It is deemed to hold authorization as a private intervenor from the date of reception of the notice. The municipality’s returning officer will assign them an authorization number.

School board

In this section

Applicants and individuals must obtain authorization to perform certain activities.

Candidates

A candidate in a school board election must obtain authorization from the Chief Electoral Officer to solicit or collect contributions, incur election expenses, or contract loans.

Who grants the authorization?

The returning officer of the school board may grant authorization to any elector who undertakes to run as a candidate. They may grant the authorization as of January 1 of the year in which a general election is to be held in that school board or, in the case of a by-election, as of the day the office becomes vacant. It may also be granted at any time during the election period up to polling day.

Team formation

The Act respecting school elections to elect certain members of the boards of directors of English-language school service centres does not permit 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 appears below the names of the candidates on the ballot, where applicable.

Information required

Candidates must provide the following information to obtain authorization.

  • Their name, home address and telephone number
  • The name of the school board for which they intend to run
  • The address where the books and accounts on the funds obtained as a candidate, the expenses incurred, and the loans contracted will be kept

The authorized candidate does not have to appoint an official representative or an official agent, as they may act in this capacity themselves during school elections. They must ensure that the information we hold about them is accurate and they must notify us of any changes.

Candidates and financing

Authorized candidates may:

  • Solicit or collect contributions
  • Contribute up to $300 per year to their campaign, plus an additional $700 in an election year (for a maximum of $1,000 in that year)
  • Lend up to $10,000 (loan and surety) per year to their campaign
  • Borrow from third parties
  • Incur election expenses
  • Pay for an election expense themselves

They must:

  • Issue contribution receipts to contributors or ensure that receipts are issued to them
  • Ensure compliance with contribution regulations
  • Deposit the contributions received through election-related activities or events
  • Pay the annual interest on loans
  • Produce the financial report and, where applicable, the additional financial report
  • Ensure that all payments for election expenses are supported by an invoice and that they pay the going rate for the goods or service
  • Ensure that all advertising includes the words "Authorized by: [name of candidate]"
  • Respect the limit on election expenses
  • Produce the election expense return

Private intervenor

A private intervenor is an elector or group of electors who intend to incur advertising expenses during an election period to make their opinion known on a matter of public interest, obtain support for such an opinion, or advocate abstention or cancellation of the vote. Their advertisements must not directly promote or oppose any candidate.

Elector or group

A person who is a qualified elector may be authorized as a private intervenor. A group of natural persons who are not incorporated may also obtain authorization as a private intervenor if the majority of its members are qualified electors.

Group

When the private intervenor is a group, its members must designate a representative from among the electors of the group.

Obtaining authorization

In order to obtain authorization, the private intervenor must complete and submit the form provided for this purpose. It is available on the Forms and guides page of our website.

Who grants authorization?

During an election period, from the 44th day until the 20th day preceding the poll, the private intervenor must submit his completed form to the returning officer of the school board.

Other resources

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