Municipal Election Campaigns
What are the rules for campaign fundraising and expenses?
Every municipal council is required to have a Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses Bylaw.
The Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses Bylaw Regulations set out the rules for a municipality’s bylaw. Many municipalities address these rules in their “Municipal Election Bylaw.”
The bylaw must establish:
- who can contribute to an election campaign;
- the limits on campaign contributions (donations) and on election campaign expenses for mayor and councillor; and
- the disclosure requirements for campaign contributions and election expenses for candidates.
Can I contribute to my own campaign?
Check your municipal bylaw. The bylaw will specify the amount a candidate and a candidate's spouse can contribute to their campaign.
What are the requirements for candidates?
- keep complete and proper accounting records of their campaign contributions and election expenses during the election expense period
- keep receipts of expenses
- provide receipts to contributors
- not accept anonymous campaign contributions
- only make election expenses during the election expense period (check the municipal bylaw for advertising expenses)
- follow the campaign contribution limits and election expense limits set out in the municipal bylaw
- ensure a contributor is allowed to donate to the campaign (check the municipal bylaw - municipalities can specify the types of contributors allowed to donate)
- file a Disclosure Statement of Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses with the Municipal Electoral Officer (MEO) or the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)
- keep required records for seven years
When is the election expense period?
The election expense period starts when a person publicly states (whether in person or by electronic means) that they plan to run for municipal council.
The election expense period ends on election day or when the candidate is declared elected by the MEO - whichever of the two days is earlier.
Candidates can only spend money on election expenses during the election expense period.
Check your municipal bylaw to see if the municipality allowed for advertising expenses to be made before the election expense period. If so, these expenses must be recorded and reported.
Who has to file a Disclosure Statement of Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses (Disclosure Statement)?
All candidates, whether elected or acclaimed, must file a Disclosure Statement of Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses.
How do I file a Disclosure Statement?
- Check your municipality's bylaw
- The municipality has set a particular contribution threshold (which can be any amount up to $250) at which point more detailed reporting is required. When a contributor gives the set amount or higher, the candidate must list the contributor's name and address in the Disclosure Statement.
- Contributors who donate less than this amount will have their contribution recorded in another section of the Disclosure Statement, but their name and address are not required to be reported.
- Complete the form
- Fill out a Disclosure Statement of Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses
- Fill out an excel Disclosure Statement of Campaign Contributions and Election Expenses
- File the form with the Municipal Electoral Officer or with the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) if the MEO is no longer appointed.
- Find municipal contact information in the Municipal Directory.
When does the Disclosure Statement have to be filed?
The Disclosure Statement must be filed within two months of the municipal election or by-election.
What if the Disclosure Statements shows a surplus of campaign contributions?
The municipal bylaw will specify the process to deal with a surplus, including options for a refund in the event of a candidate's withdrawal prior to the election. Surpluses that are not refunded will be turned over to the municipality to be used for municipal purposes.
Where can I see a candidate's filed Disclosure Statement?
The CAO must ensure that each Disclosure Statement of every candidate (whether elected or not) is posted on the municipal website for at least 6 months.
The CAO must also prepare a report that summarizes the Disclosure Statements of each candidate (whether elected or not). The report must note any candidate who has:
- exceeded the limit on election expenses, or
- failed to file their Disclosure Statement
The CAO must ensure that the summary report of Disclosure Statements is:
- submitted to council, and
- posted in the municipality or on the municipal website for at least six months.