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Understanding political financing

Sources of financing

Summary

Political entities may use a variety of financing sources including voter contributions, political party membership fees, loans, annual allowances, and matching sums.

Provincial

In this section

Contributions

A contribution is a gift of money, a service rendered, or goods provided free of charge by an elector out of their own assets. Legal entities (companies, unions, etc.) may not make contributions.

Violation of the contribution provisions may result in prosecution and severe penalties:

  • A fine of $5,000 to $20,000 for an individual and $10,000 to $50,000 for a legal entity
  • It also entails a loss of:
    • the right to sit and vote, for those elected
    • electoral rights
    • the right to enter into a public contract

Making a contribution

All contributions over $50 and all contributions of $50 or less made by cheque, pre-authorized debit (payment order) or credit card must be made to us. We then forward them to the relevant authorized entity.

Contributions of $50 or less in cash

Only contributions in cash of $50 or less may be made to the official representative of the authorized entity. This type of contribution may also be made to persons whom the official representative designates in writing for this purpose. These persons must also have a canvasser’s certificate.

Contribution receipts

All contributions must be recorded on a contribution receipt. This receipt must include a signed declaration by the contributor that the contribution was made voluntarily, from their own assets, and without compensation, exchange, or consideration.

Contributions over $50

Contributions of more than $50 must be made by means of a cheque or other form of payment signed by the elector, drawn from their account in a financial institution with an office in Quebec. The cheque or payment order must be made payable to the Chief Electoral Officer and indicate the name of the authorized entity for which the contribution is intended.

A contribution can also be made by credit card. A contribution receipt is available online for any contribution over $50 made via this method.

Maximum amount

In a given year, an elector may make up to $100 in contributions to each political party (including its authorities), each independent candidate, and each authorized independent Member.

An elector in an electoral division where a general election or by-election is being held may make additional contributions. They can give up to an additional $100 to each party, each independent MNA, or each independent candidate.

Tax credit

The tax credits that were available to persons making contributions to authorized political parties, independent Members of Parliament, independent candidates, and political party leadership contestants were abolished on January 1, 2013.

Public nature of a contribution

We publish the name of the elector, the city and postal code of their home, the total amount of the contributions they made, as well as the name of the authorized party, the authorized independent Member, or the authorized independent candidate to whom they made one or more contributions. This information is released no later than 30 business days after a contribution is received.

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Non-compliant contributions

When a contribution does not comply with the Election Act, it is returned to us immediately. The money is then turned over to the Minister of Finance.

Contributions from political parties and authorized independent candidates may also be claimed if there is convincing evidence that they are not in compliance. Non-compliant contributions that have been claimed are published on our website.

Non-compliant contributions claimed from political entities

Canvassing

Canvassing includes any of the following three actions:

  1. Requesting, soliciting, or calling upon someone to make a contribution, whether it is done person-to-person, by telephone, mail, email, the Internet, or any other means.
  2. Receiving or taking possession of a contribution, whether paid in cash, cheque, credit card or any other payment order signed by the contributor.
  3. Issuing a contribution receipt or receiving a contribution receipt duly completed by the contributor.

The canvasser who receives the contribution must provide a receipt to the contributor. The name of the canvasser must be given on the receipt when the canvassing is made in his or her presence.

Persons entitled to canvass

The official representative is responsible for canvassing. However, they may designate, in writing, persons allowed to perform this task.

A person authorized to solicit political contributions must hold a canvasser’s certificate and show it to anyone who asks.

Political entities must provide Élections Québec with a list of canvassers appointed during the year along with their financial report. This list is not made public, however.

Political party membership fees

Maximum amount

A natural person may pay a maximum of $25 to a political party for a membership or for a membership card. Any amount in excess of this limit is considered a contribution. The person who pays such an excess amount must therefore be a qualified elector and receive a contribution receipt.

Political activity or event

A political activity is an activity held by an authorized entity that is not for the purpose of fundraising.

Admission fee

An admission fee for a political activity does not constitute a contribution. This price may not exceed the actual cost of the activity by more than 5%, up to a maximum of one entry per person. Any excess funds must be turned over to us no later than 30 days following our request, and we will then send the funds to the Minister of Finance.

Loans and suretyship

Loans

Only the official representative of a party, a party authority, an authorized independent candidate, or an authorized independent MNA may incur a loan. They may only do so from an elector or a financial institution at the current market rate of interest.

Loans or sureties from an elector

If the interest rate of an elector's loan is lower than the current rate, the difference between the two rates must be considered a contribution from the elector. A contribution receipt must be issued.

Any loan granted by an elector must be made by means of a cheque or other order of payment signed by the elector.

Only an elector may act as surety for a loan contracted by an official representative.

The total amount of the loans and sureties granted by an elector may not exceed $25,000. There is no maximum amount for borrowing from a recognized financial institution.

Declaration

The deed of loan, or the deed of suretyship, shall contain a declaration by the elector that the loan, or the suretyship, is being made out of their own assets, voluntarily, without compensation or consideration, and that it has not been and will not be repaid except as provided by the Act.

Allowance for political parties

An annual allowance may be paid to authorized political parties in accordance with section 82 of the Election Act. This allowance is distributed in proportion to the percentage of valid votes obtained in the last general election. It is reviewed annually.

Within 10 days of the writ of election being issued, a supplementary allowance will be made to the political parties in accordance with section 82 of the Election Act. It is distributed in the same way as the annual allowance.

These allowances are paid to official representatives of political parties.

According to section 86 of the Election Act, no later than April 1 of each year, the Chief Electoral Officer shall publish in the Gazette officielle du Québec a summary statement of sums paid to the official representative of any party, independent MNA or independent candidate referred to in sections 81, 82, 82.1, 82.2 and 82.4 of the Act.

In accordance with section 83 of the Election Act, these sums are used to cover expenses related to current administration, the communication of political platforms, the coordination of political actions by members or supporters, and election expenses. These amounts are also used to repay the principal of loans.

Allowances for provincial political parties

Matching sums

The Act provides for the payment, under certain conditions, of amounts to authorized parties, authorized independent Members and authorized independent candidates based on contributions made to them.

Each authorized political party receives:

  • On the first $20,000 of contributions made to it, $2.50 for every dollar received per year.
  • For the other contributions, up to a maximum of $200,000 in contributions, $1.00 for each dollar contributed.

Each authorized independent Member or authorized independent candidate receives $2.50 for every dollar of contribution they receive, up to a maximum of $800 of contributions per year.

During general elections, we also pay each authorized political party, in addition to the amounts indicated above:

  • On the first $20,000 of additional contributions made to them, $2.50 for every dollar received in the calendar year of the general election.
  • For the other contributions, up to a maximum of $200,000 in contributions, $1.00 for each dollar contributed.

In order to be entitled to these additional amounts, a political party that has been authorized since the last general election and is not entitled to the annual allowance must send us the names and addresses:

  • Of at least 1,000 members with voter eligibility and a valid membership card.
  • Or of at least 500 members with voter eligibility and a valid membership card from at least 10 different administrative regions, each with at least 25 members.

To apply, you must first obtain the Signature d’un membre de parti politique provincial forms (in French only), on which you will collect the supporting signatures of your party members. Please contact us for more information.

Pursuant to section 86 of the Election Act, no later than April 1 of each year, the Chief Electoral Officer shall publish in the Gazette officielle du Québec a summary statement of sums paid to the official representative of any party, independent MNA or independent candidate referred to in sections 81, 82, 82.1, 82.2 and 82.4 of the Act.

In accordance with section 83 of the Election Act, these sums are used to cover expenses related to current administration, the communication of political platforms, the coordination of political actions by members or supporters, and election expenses. These amounts are also used to repay the principal of loans.

Matching sums paid to provincial political parties, independent MNAs and independent candidates

Reimbursement of annual financial report audit and certification fees

Appointment of an auditor

A political party must appoint an auditor to produce its annual financial report. This person must be authorized to practice public auditing in Quebec.

Partial reimbursement of auditing expenses

The Chief Electoral Officer shall reimburse the authorized political parties one-half (50%) of the cost incurred for the audit of the annual financial report and one-half (50%) of the cost related to obtaining the required security standard certification, in keeping with security requirements, for the collection, processing and storage of bank data in connection with the payment of a contribution by means of a credit card (PCI DSS). The total reimbursement is up to a maximum of $21,000.

Municipal

In this section

This page deals with the sources of financing for political parties and candidates in municipalities with a population of 5,000 people or more.

Contributions

A contribution is a donation to a party or independent candidate in the form of money, a service rendered, or goods provided free of charge by an elector for political purposes. Any money, goods or service provided by the candidate themselves for the purpose of their election is also considered to be a contribution.

Contributions are reserved for natural persons

Legal persons (companies, unions, etc.) cannot make contributions.

When an offence is committed with respect to the provisions related to contributions, it may result in prosecution and harsh penalties including:

  • A fine of $5,000 to $20,000 for a natural person, and $10,000 to $50,000 for a legal person
  • They will also lose:
    • The right to sit and vote, for those elected
    • Their electoral rights
    • The right to enter into a public contract

Maximum contributions

The total amount of contributions of money, goods and services that a single elector may make to each party and authorized independent candidate may not exceed $100 in any one year.

Between January 1 and December 31 of a year in which a general election is held, an elector may make an additional contribution of $100. In the case of a by-election, an elector may make this additional contribution between the date the seat becomes vacant and the 30th day after the poll. An elector may make the additional contribution to each authorized independent candidate and each authorized political party.

In addition to the amounts mentioned above, a candidate may also make contributions not exceeding $800 for their own benefit or for the benefit of the party for which they are a candidate. In a general election or by-election, they may make this additional contribution between the date their nomination paper is accepted and December 31 of the year in which the election is held.

Contributions over $50

Contributions over $50 must be made by cheque or credit card. In the latter case, the elector must sign a form provided by the official representative.

Contribution receipts

All contributions, regardless of the amount, require a receipt for the elector. The contributor must also sign a declaration stating that the contribution was made willingly, from their own assets, and without compensation, exchange or consideration. The name of the contributor’s employer is also required on the contribution receipt.

Tax credits

The elector will receive a receipt and the cash contribution may be eligible for a tax credit. The maximum credit is up to $155 (85% of the first $50 and 75% of the second $150).

A contribution made by a candidate for their own benefit, or for that of the party for which they are a candidate, is not eligible for this credit.

Non-compliant contributions

Any contribution that does not comply with the law must be repaid to the treasurer of the municipality as soon as the fact is known.

Contributions from political parties and authorized independent candidates may also be claimed if there is convincing evidence that it is not in compliance. Non-compliant contributions claimed from a political party or an independent candidate are duly published.

Canvassing

Canvassing includes the following:

  1. Requesting, soliciting or calling upon someone to make a contribution, whether it is done person-to-person, by telephone, mail, e-mail, the Internet or any other means.
  2. Receiving or taking possession of a contribution, whether paid in cash, by cheque, credit card or any other payment order signed by the contributor.
  3. The issuance of a contribution receipt or the receipt of a completed contribution receipt by the contributor.

The canvasser who receives the contribution must provide a receipt to the contributor. The name of the canvasser must be given on the receipt when the canvassing is made in their presence.

People authorized to canvass

The official representative is responsible for canvassing. They may, however designate, in writing, someone to carry out this task.

A person authorized to solicit contributions must hold a canvasser's certificate and show it to any person who requests it.

Political party membership fees

Maximum amount

An annual sum not exceeding $25 paid by a natural person for their membership in a political party is not considered a contribution.

Therefore, if the membership or membership card renewal fee of a political party is $15 annually, this amount paid by a natural person for their membership cannot be considered a contribution.

Amounts exceeding the limit

Any amount in excess of this limit is considered a contribution. For example, if the membership fee is $15, but the elector pays $25, a contribution receipt must be issued for the $10 difference.

Similarly, if a party’s membership or membership renewal fee is $35, only the difference, $10, constitutes a contribution.

Political activities or events

A political activity (dinner, golf tournament, cocktail party, etc.) is an activity organized for the purpose of raising funds for a party or an authorized independent candidate.

Entrance fees over $60 per day

If the admission fee for an activity is more than $60 per day, the official representative must consider this fee as a contribution. Therefore, they must provide contribution receipts and ensure that the persons paying the amount are qualified as electors. Since it is considered a contribution, the admission fee must be paid by cheque or credit card and included in the elector’s annual contributions.

Admission fees of $60 or less per day

If the admission fee for an activity is $60 or less per day, the official representative may choose whether or not to treat the admission fee as a contribution. Their choice must be the same for all participants.

If the official representative chooses to treat the entrance fee as a contribution, a contribution receipt must be issued. Only an elector may pay this amount, and it must be included in the tally of their annual contribution.

If the official representative chooses not to consider the admission fee as a contribution, this amount will constitute activity revenue. No contribution receipts will need to be issued to participants. Anyone may then pay the entrance fee, whether or not they are qualified electors. Only one entrance fee may be paid per person.

The total amount of activity revenues cannot exceed 3% of the total amount of contributions collected by a party or independent candidate during the period covered by a financial return.

The purchase of several admissions

If a person wishes to purchase more than one admission, any additional admissions must be considered a contribution. A receipt must be given to that person. Only an elector may therefore purchase more than one admission.

Loans and suretyships

Loans

Only the official representative may borrow money for a party or an authorized independent candidate. They may only do so with a municipal elector or financial institution at the current market rate of interest.

Maximum amount

The total amount of loans and sureties that an elector makes to one or more parties or authorized independent candidates may not exceed $5,000. Lenders may be the candidates themselves.

There is no maximum amount for a loan from a financial institution. However, the total amount of loans and sureties that an elector makes to one or more parties or authorized independent candidates may not exceed $5,000.

Loans from an elector

If the interest rate on a loan from an elector is lower than the current rate, the difference between the two rates is to be considered a contribution by the elector. A contribution receipt must be issued.

Any loan made by an elector must be made by cheque.

Declarations

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.

Allowances to political parties

The authorized political parties of any municipality of 20,000 or more who have obtained at least 1% of the votes in the last general election are now entitled to an annual allowance paid to them in accordance with section 449.1 of the Act respecting elections and referendums in municipalities. It shall be distributed in proportion to the percentage of valid votes obtained by each of them in the last general elections.

This allowance is paid monthly by the treasurer to the official representative of the authorized party, on production of supporting documents. It is intended to reimburse the expenses incurred and paid for the day-to-day administration of an authorized party, for the diffusion of the political program of that party, and for the political action of its members. Election expenses, interest expenses and principal payments of a loan whose proceeds were paid into the election fund cannot justify the payment of the allowance.

The allowance is indexed on January 1 of each year according to the change in the average consumer price index for the previous year.

Matching sums

In general elections or by-elections, the treasurer of any municipality of 20,000 or more inhabitants will pay, along with the reimbursement of election expenses, matching sums to eligible political parties and authorized independent candidates.

Parties and independent candidates receive $2.50 for every dollar they raise in contributions between January 1 of the year in which a general election is being held and polling day. The limit for these funds is set in accordance with established limits based on the elected office and the size of the municipality. In a by-election, only contributions received during the election period are considered.

The calculation of this income excludes the contribution made by a candidate for their own benefit or for that of the political party for which they are running.

Reimbursement of auditing expenses

A political party that raises more than $5,000 in revenue in a year must have its financial report audited.

Partial reimbursement of auditing expenses

The fee for auditing a party’s annual financial report will be reimbursed by the municipal treasurer, from the municipality’s general funds, up to a maximum of:

  • $2,086 in the case of a municipality with a population of fewer than 50,000 people
  • $3,072 in the case of a municipality with a population of between 50,000 and 100,000 people
  • $6,144 in the case of a municipality with a population of over 100,000

The above amounts are revised at the beginning of each year based on the change in the average consumer price index during the previous year. The basis of the revision is the index established by Statistics Canada for all of Québec.

School

In this section

Contributions

A contribution is a gift of money, a service rendered, or goods provided free of charge by an elector of the English-language school board from their own assets.

Any money, goods or service provided by the candidate themselves for the purpose of their election is also considered to be a contribution.

The contributor must sign a declaration stating that the contribution was made voluntarily, from their own assets, and without compensation, exchange, or consideration.

Legal entities (companies, unions, etc.) may not make a contribution to a candidate.

Violation of the contribution provisions may result in prosecution and severe penalties:

  • A fine of $5,000 to $20,000
  • Offenders will also lose:
    • The right to sit and vote, for those elected
    • Their electoral rights
    • The right to enter into a public contract

Maximum amount

An elector may contribute up to $300 in cash, goods, and services to each authorized candidate in any one year.

During the year of an election, an authorized candidate may make additional contributions for their own benefit, in addition to the $300 contribution, the total of which shall not exceed $700.

Contribution receipts

An elector who makes a contribution to a candidate must receive a contribution receipt. This receipt is not eligible for a tax credit.

The name of the contributor's employer is required on the contribution receipt.

Contributions of $100 or more

A contribution of $100 or more must be made by means of a cheque or other form of payment signed by the elector, drawn from their account in a financial institution with an office in Quebec, and it must be made payable to the candidate.

Election activity

An election activity is a meeting, event, or activity for which an admission fee is charged.

Admission fee over $60 per day

If the entrance fee is more than $60, it should be considered a contribution. A contribution receipt must be given to each person who pays the admission fee. Only a person who is a qualified elector may pay this fee to participate in the activity.

Admission fee of $60 or less per day

If the entrance fee is $60 or less, it can be considered a contribution. In this case:

  • This option applies equally to all participants.
  • The latter must receive a contribution receipt corresponding to the admission fee.
  • Only a person who is a qualified elector can pay the admission fee. This amount should be considered in the total amount of contributions from that person.

If the admission fee is not considered a contribution:

  • This option applies equally to all participants.
  • No contribution receipt is issued unless an elector purchases more than one admission.
  • Any person, natural or legal, may pay the price of an admission, whether they are a qualified elector.

If the admission fee is not considered a contribution, it is activity income.

The total amount of income from activities may not exceed 3% of the total amount of contributions raised by a candidate during the period covered by a financial report.

Loans and suretyship

An elector of an English-language school board may grant a loan to an authorized candidate of that school board. A financial institution may also grant such a loan. The loan is granted at the current market interest rate.

The total amount of loans and sureties granted by an elector of the English-language school board to one or more authorized candidates of that school board may not exceed $10,000. The lender may be the applicant.

In all cases, the loan must be made in writing and granted at the current market rate.

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