House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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4. The House of Commons and Its Members

Election Expenses

Legislation on election expenses was first incorporated into the Canada Elections Act in 1974. [163]  Election expenses are defined as those costs incurred “for the purpose of promoting or opposing, directly and during an election, a particular registered party, or the election of a particular candidate”. [164]  Sections of the Canada Elections Act require all registered federal political parties and candidates to disclose the details of their election campaign financing. [165]  The Act sets down guidelines to control election spending by both parties and candidates according to a formula based on the number of names on the preliminary voters list for each constituency. [166]  The amount of election expenses a candidate or political party may incur is limited, thereby ensuring that no one candidate dominates due to wealth and that any eligible Canadian may consider becoming a candidate. Under the Act, only the candidate and the candidate’s official agent may pay the candidate’s personal expenses, whereas only the official agent may pay all other campaign-related expenses.

Within four months after polling day, all candidates, whether successful or not, must submit both a return and a declaration respecting election expenses. [167]  If the elected Member fails to submit his or her report and declaration of election expenses within the prescribed time, the Member will not be permitted to sit or vote in the House until the declaration is filed. [168]  Candidates who get at least 15% of the valid votes cast in their electoral district are reimbursed 50% of their maximum allowed election expenses out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. [169] 

In 1974, the position of Commissioner of Election Expenses was created to ensure that the election expenses provisions of the Election Expenses Act were complied with andenforced. [170]  In December 1977, the statute was amended to extend the Commissioner’s responsibilities to cover all provisions of the Canada Elections Act[171]  The Commissioner ensures that candidates and their official agents fulfil their obligations under the legislation, such as submitting their election expenses returns and official receipts within the legal time frame and ensuring that corrective action is taken promptly when minor transgressions occur. When requested to do so by the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner also investigates complaints of alleged infractions by election officers. [172] 

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