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Understanding political financing

Rules for running a leadership campaign

Summary

Candidates must follow rules related to financing and auditing of election expenses to ensure that leadership campaigns are transparent.

Provincial

In this section

The Act respecting political party leadership campaigns, adopted by the National Assembly in December 2011, provides the legal framework for political party leadership races. Anyone running for the leadership of a political party must follow the rules of campaign financing and auditing of expenses. These rules are now incorporated into the Election Act.

The main purpose of these rules is to make leadership campaigns more transparent. We do this by posting information about contributions and contributors on our website throughout the campaign. Candidates’ expenses are also disclosed in reports that are made public.

Infractions and fines are provided for when the rules are not respected.

Stakeholders

Élections Québec:

  • Provides support for political parties.
  • Provides information about candidates and their financial transactions during the campaign.
  • Ensures the application of financing rules.

Financial representative of the candidate:

  • Is solely responsible for canvassing for the candidate they represent. They may also authorize, in writing, others to collect contributions (canvassers).
  • Authorizes and pays claims and reimburses loans.
  • Transfers any surplus money to Élections Québec.
  • Provides a report of their campaign revenue and expenses to the official representative of the party.

Official representative of the party:

  • Administers the expenses incurred during the leadership campaign.
  • Following the campaign, receives reports from the candidate’s financial representatives, produces a party expense report on the administration of the leadership campaign and sends it to Élections Québec.

Contributions

Only electors may contribute financially to the leadership candidates of the political party. Any contribution paid by an elector must be accompanied by a contribution receipt and be made willingly, from their own assets, and without compensation or consideration. It may not be reimbursed in any way.

The maximum amount an elector may contribute to a single leadership campaign is $500. A contribution of more than $50 must be made by cheque or other means of payment made out directly to the candidate.

In a leadership campaign, contributions are deposited into the account of the financial representative.

Any elector contributing to a leadership campaign does so for the benefit of a candidate, not for the benefit of the party. This contribution therefore does not affect the $100 maximum amount per year that an elector may contribute to the party.

Within five days of receiving information of a contribution, the contributor’s name, city and the postal code of their residence are published on our website in compliance with the law, as well as the amount of the contribution and the candidate to whom it was made.

Loans

The financial representative may borrow money from a financial institution or from an elector to pay campaign expenses. The candidate must have previously authorized this loan in writing.

Only an elector can act as surety for a loan.

The deed of loan or surety bond must contain a declaration by the elector that the loan or surety bond is made on the elector’s own assets, voluntarily, without compensation or consideration, and that it has not been nor will be reimbursed except as provided by the Act.

Campaign expenses

In a leadership race, campaign expenses are considered to be any cost incurred for the purposes of the campaign by the financial representative of a candidate and by the official representative of the party.

The Election Act does not limit campaign expenses in a leadership race. The party may, however, determine a maximum amount of expenses that candidates must adhere to.

The Chief Electoral Officer does not reimburse campaign expenses.

After the vote

Payment of debts

The financial representative has 12 months following the election day to settle claims and loans. Élections Québec may, however, grant an extension of up to 24 months after the first period has expired.

After the repayment period for outstanding loans and debts has expired, any unpaid balance is deemed to be a contribution by the candidate to their own campaign. This person therefore becomes liable for their campaign debts.

Reports

The candidate’s financial representatives must file a return on campaign revenues and expenses with the official representative of the party within 90 days following the election.

Within 120 days after the election, the official representative of the party must file a report on the expenses incurred for the administration of the leadership race. This report must include all reports received from the financial representatives. These reports then become public.

Should any debts remain after the first report has been filed, the leadership candidate's financial representative must file a supplementary report every three months until the debt is repaid, or the deadline expires.

All reports filed must be signed by the candidate or the party leader, where applicable, and be accompanied by a statement from them and their official representative concerning the rules on election financing and expenses.

Legal proceedings

Offences similar to those related to party financing are applicable to leadership campaigns of political parties.

Investigations may be made on the application of leadership campaign provisions based on our own initiative, or at the request of an individual. Penalties, including fines, may be imposed upon conviction or sentencing.

Municipal

In this section

Anyone running for the leadership of a political party must follow the rules of campaign financing and auditing of campaign expenses. These rules are stated in the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities.

The main purpose of these rules is to make leadership campaigns more transparent. This is done by posting information about contributions and contributors on our website. Candidates’ expenses are also recorded in reports that are made public.

Infractions and fines are provided for when the rules are not respected.

Stakeholders

Élections Québec:

  • Provides support for political parties.
  • Provides information about candidates and their financial transactions during the campaign.
  • Ensures the application of financing rules.

Financial representative of the candidate:

  • Is solely responsible for canvassing for the candidate they represent. They may also authorize, in writing, others to collect contributions (canvassers).
  • Authorizes and pays claims and reimburses loans.
  • Transfers any surplus money to the official representative of the party.
  • Provides a report of their campaign revenue and expenses to the official representative of the party.

Official representative of the party:

  • Administers the expenses incurred during the leadership campaign.
  • Following the campaign, receives reports from the candidate’s financial representatives and produces a party expense report on the administration of the leadership campaign.

Contributions

Only electors may contribute financially to leadership candidates of a political party. Any contribution paid by an elector must be accompanied by a contribution receipt and be made willingly, from their own assets, and without compensation or consideration. It may not be reimbursed in any way.

The maximum amount an elector can contribute to a single leadership campaign is $200. Candidates may contribute an additional $800 to their own campaign. All contributions over $50 must be made by credit card or by cheque payable to the candidate.

Any elector making a contribution to a leadership campaign does so for the benefit of a candidate, not for the benefit of the party. This contribution therefore does not affect the amount they may contribute to the party each year.

Contributions over $50 are made public. Within five days of receiving information of a contribution, the donor’s name, city and the postal code of their residence are published, as well as the amount of the contribution and the candidate to whom it was made.

The tax credit applicable to contributions is the same as the tax credit provided for contributions to municipal candidates and political parties. This tax credit may not be added to any other tax credit that the elector would have received for a contribution to the political party. A contribution made by a candidate for his or her own leadership campaign does not qualify for the tax credit.

Loans

The financial representative may borrow money from a financial institution or from an elector to pay campaign expenses. The candidate must have previously authorized this loan in writing.

An elector may act as a surety for the loan. However, the total number of loans and guarantees he or she provides may not exceed $5,000.

Campaign expenses

In a leadership race, campaign expenses are considered to be any cost incurred for the purposes of the campaign by the financial representative of a candidate and by the official representative of the party.

The Act respecting municipal elections and referendums does not limit campaign expenses. The party may, however, determine a maximum amount of expenses that candidates must adhere to.

The municipality does not reimburse election expenses for leadership campaigns.

After the vote

Payment of debts

The financial representative has 12 months following the election day to settle claims and loans. A repayment extension is granted for up to 24 months after the first period has expired.

After the repayment period for outstanding loans and debts has expired, any unpaid balance is deemed to be a contribution by the candidate to their own campaign. This person therefore becomes liable for their campaign debts.

Reports

The candidate’s financial representatives must file a return on the campaign revenues and expenses with the official representative of the party within 90 days following the election.

Within 120 days after the election, the official representative of the party must file a report on the expenses incurred for the administration of the leadership race. This report must include all returns received from the financial representatives. These reports then become public.

Should any debts remain after the first report has been filed, the leadership candidate’s financial representative must file an additional report every three months until the debt is repaid, or the deadline expires.

Legal proceedings

Offences similar to those related to party financing apply to leadership campaigns of political parties.

Investigations may be made into the application of provisions regarding leadership campaigns based on our own initiative, or at the request of an individual. Penalties, including fines, may be imposed upon conviction or sentencing.

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