Election Financing Unfair To Independents

Election Financing Unfair To Independents

When it comes to financing, independent candidates are subject to discrimination.  For example:

“… should he end up running as an Independent, Mr. Casey and his staff have found that current regulations governing election financing place restrictions on an Independent candidate’s ability to raise money.

Other candidates in my riding can all raise money now through their riding associations, but I am not allowed to raise a penny until the election starts,” he said. “In a campaign it is hard to raise money. I mean, you are running a campaign and trying to get elected.”

With no affiliation to a registered political party, Casey has also found restrictions in the amount of money any single contributor can give to his campaign. “I can only receive a maximum contribution by any individual of $1,100 for an election,” he said. “But because of the way the system is, my competitors can each get a maximum of $5,500 from a single contributor because they can get $1,100 each year between elections, and I can only raise money during an election.”

Read the complete article here.

Surely this situation must be remedied. We are grateful for the following suggestion from Kirk Schmidt:

Also, because of the fundraising rules difference between independents and parties, I have come up with a proposal for change in rules, which I am including in this email as well, if it interests you:

1. Independents must be registered with Elections Canada in order to raise funds. The nomination form must be filled out properly, including the 100 signatures of residents of the riding, and Independents must have appointed an Official Agent and Auditor. Once completed and verified by Elections Canada, Independents will be qualified to fundraise. Elections Canada can verify the nomination paper without the need for a local Returning Officer.

2. Funds raised outside of an election period should be made out to the Receiver General to be held in trust for the candidate. Any tax receipts will be produced by Elections Canada, and not to be given out by the candidate.

3. Should the Independent decide not to run, any monies received in trust for that candidate will become property of the Receiver General.

4. At the outset of the election, the monies held in trust will be transferred to the candidate within the first few days (48 hours? 72?), and he/she will be able to get tax receipts from the Returning Officer to provide to people who contribute within the electoral period.

5. Any campaign surplus will be remitted to the Receiver General to be held in trust for the candidate. In the case that the candidate becomes a candidate for a party, the funds held in trust will be transferred to the constituency association. Should the candidate not run in the subsequent election, all funds will be forfeited to the Receiver General.

6. With respect to interest generated from any monies held in trust: There are several options here. Given that normally the consituency association would hold the account and produce all tax receipts during a non-electoral period for a party-endorsed candidate, it would make sense for a portion, if not all, of the interest generated be used to mitigate expenses incurred by Elections Canada. However, depending on how pre-writ expenses are treated, this could also change. For example, if candidates are expected to take out a loan to cover pre-writ expenses, incurring interest for that loan, then it would serve that all interest generated by coffers (minus fees for EC?) should be the candidate’s. However, if the candidates can submit their expenses to EC periodically (quarterly or, even monthly), and funds can be remitted to the candidate (or vendor) for out-of-pocket expenses (out-of-pocket is handled officially by the candidate becoming the ‘vendor’), then perhaps it would serve as argument for EC to keep the interest generated. This is all up for debate.

Points 1, 2 and 3 are designed to ensure that we mitigate the number of ‘false’ independents. 1 requires the independent to do at least some leg-work, and 2 and 3 ensures that there is no financial gain to the candidate by running and then dropping out. 2 maintains fairness and transparency by providing a similar mechanism to a constituency association, and, being an organization designed to promote proper electoral processes, serve as a good governing body for trusts.

Point 4 is to ensure that there is a seamless change between pre-election financing and elecoral financing for the independent.

Point 5 addresses the fact that any surplus generated by the campaign, including the remittance of the candidate’s deposit, as well as the portion of paid election expenses returned to the candidate if they receive a certain percent of votes, typically gets given to the Receiver General and is no longer of use to the candidate. This provision would allow the candidate to run again, using the funds that they earned in the previous election to act as a starting point for their campaign. This is an advantage seen by party-endorsed candidates because they can remit all surpluses to their constituency association.”


Kirk Schmidt
Independent Candidate for Calgary West