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Taking Part in the Election Debate

Did you know that during an election, you must follow certain rules if you wish to take part in the election debate?

You may not engage in any partisan public activity during the election period if there is a cost associated with them. However, you can obtain authorization as a private intervenor.

Rules to be followed if you wish to take part in the election debate

During the election period, only the official agents of political parties or of candidates may incur expenses to, for example, promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a person.

A few examples of illegal partisan activities in an election period

  • A person may not pay for a Facebook advertisement designed to promote or oppose a measure proposed by a party.
  • An individual may not print, at his or her own costs, posters designed to promote a candidate in his or her workplace or any other public place.
  • A business may not purchase a newspaper advertisement to take position on an action carried out by a party or candidate.
  • An association may not support a party or candidate on its website because there is usually a cost associated with this website's creation and maintenance.

Why are only official agents permitted to incur election expenses?

It is a question of fairness, because election expenses are capped at the same amount for all candidates in a given electoral division. As a result, all candidates have similar budgets to promote their candidacy.

Do you want to express your preferences or opinions?

You may do so as long as there are no costs associated with your actions. For instance, a free post on social media like Facebook or Twitter is not considered to be an expense, and it is allowed. You can also obtain authorization as a private intervenor.

Private intervenors

List of private intervenors

Obtaining authorization as a private intervenor

If you have the right to vote, you can obtain private intervenor status, which authorizes you to spend up to $300 on advertising during an election period. The purpose of your advertising must be to:

  • express your views on a matter of public interest or obtain support for these views;
  • encourage electors to spoil their ballot paper or abstain from voting.

You must pay for the advertising out of your own funds or of your group's members' funds, and it must not promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, the election of a candidate.

You can also obtain private intervenor status jointly with other people, as a group.

To obtain authorization, you must complete the form and submit it to the returning officer in your electoral division:

Note that a private intervenor may not be or become a member of a political party during the election period.

Further information on groups of electors

When a private intervenor is a group, the majority of its members must have the right to vote. A business, an association, a union or any other legal person may not be part of the group. The members must designate one person in the group to represent them all.

Further information on advertising expenses

Advertising expenses must be paid by the authorized person or persons. Advertising expenses include all costs related to the design, production, installation and dissemination of any advertising, regardless of the technology or medium used. Using a web page or blog, producing and posting a video on the Internet, and broadcasting content on a radio program are examples of advertising expenses.

A paid post on social media like Facebook ou Twitter is considered to be an advertisement. However, a standard post on social media has no cost and is therefore not considered to be an expense.