Funding Municipal Campaigns
“Campaign expense” means any expense incurred, or non-monetary contribution received.
The use of goods that were purchased in an election campaign in a second or subsequent election is considered to be a non-monetary contribution. Reusing these materials is considered to be a non-monetary contribution for the purposes of a campaign expense.
An election expense includes an expense incurred for, or a non-monetary contribution in relation to:
- The production of advertising or promotional material;
- The distribution, broadcast or publication of advertising or promotional material in any media or by any other means during the election period, including by the use of a capital asset;
- The payment of remuneration and expenses to or on behalf of a person for the person’s services as a chief financial officer or in any other capacity;
- The securing of meeting space,
- The conduct of election surveys or other surveys or research during an election period.
It is the responsibility of the candidate to ensure that money in the campaign account shall only be used for the payment of campaign expenses as defined in section 147.1(1)(a).
Production of a review engagement has been included as an allowable campaign expense. A review engagement (as defined in the Chartered Professional Accountants Act) is required by candidates with expenses or contributions of $50,000 or more, to be filed along with the standard disclosure statement.
Campaign Disclosure Statement and Financial Statement
Candidates are required to disclose names and addresses of donors whose contributions exceed $50.
A candidate who has incurred campaign expenses or contributions of $50,000 or more, must file a review engagement with their disclosure statements.
Financial disclosure statements are required from all candidates, included self-funded campaigns.
Limitations on Contributions
By the end of the campaign period, a candidate may contribute up to $10,000 from the candidate’s campaign account to the candidate’s own campaign expenses (which is not reimbursed to the candidate). This amount is a contribution to the candidate’s own campaign for the purposes of the Act. [S.147.2(4; 4.1)]
No individual ordinarily resident in Alberta shall contribute in any campaign period an amount that exceeds $5,000 to any candidate for election as a Councillor (or to any candidate for election as a school board trustee). [S.147.2(3)]
No candidate and no person acting for a candidate shall accept a contribution except during the campaign period.
A person who accepts not more than $5,000 in the aggregate per year in contributions outside the campaign period; [S. 147.22(3)]
A candidate who makes a contribution of not more than $10,000 in the aggregate per year to the candidate’s own campaign from the candidate’s own funds.
Campaign Surplus from 2021 Campaign
Whether or not a candidate is elected, candidates must file their disclosure statements on or before March 1 following the election. Within 60 days of filing the statement, candidates with a surplus must donate all monies over $1,000 to a registered charity.
Also within 30 days after the previously mentioned 60 day period, candidates who donate to a charity must file an amended disclosure statement showing that the surplus has been dealt with in accordance with the legislation.
For surpluses under $1000, candidates may retain all or any portion.
Campaign Surplus (Transitional from Former Campaign)
Amounts of $1,000 or more held in trust by the local jurisdiction for candidates shall be donated by the candidate to a registered charity, resulting in the surplus being less than $1,000.
For amounts less than $1,000, candidates may retain all or any portion, or donate all or any portion to a registered charity.
With no direction from the candidate on or before January 1, 2022, the money becomes the property of the local jurisdiction holding the funds in trust.
Candidates with deficits (as shown on their disclosure statement) shall eliminate the deficit within 60 days after filing the statement with the local jurisdiction. Candidates may accept contributions in accordance with the Act during that 60-day period for the purpose of eliminating a deficit.
Contributions exceeding $5,000 from any individual shall not be accepted for the purposes of eliminating a deficit.
Candidates may use their own funds (up to $10,000) to eliminate a deficit reported on a disclosure statement.
After filing the disclosure statement, and after 60 days elapse from the disclosure statement filing date, within a subsequent 30 day period candidates must file an amended disclosure statement showing that the deficit has been eliminated.
Failures and Fines
Candidates are guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 if they fail to:
- File campaign disclosure statements,
- Submit a review engagement if required,
- Submit a supplementary statement when information changes or is not accurate,
- Make a charitable donation of a 2021 surplus if required,
- File an amended disclosure statement showing that a surplus or a deficit has been dealt with. [S.147.84]
Third parties interested in advertising during a municipal election to oppose or promote a candidate, will be required to register with the municipality or school board they intend to advertise in when advertising contributions or incurred expenses of at least $1000 or plans to incur advertising expenses of at least $1000 for election advertising.
The City must maintain a register of third parties who engage in election advertising. (Should a third party be registered in more than 10 local jurisdictions, they may apply to the Registrar for registration. The Registrar for third party advertising is appointed under Section 162.1 by the Minister). The City determines whether requirements in section 163 are met, and whether to accept or refuse the application. [S.163(7)]
Third parties registering in less than ten jurisdictions are required to register with each local jurisdiction. Issue-based political advertising has been removed from the legislation meaning that only candidate-backing or opposing advertising is regulated by the LAEA. Advertising on specific campaign issues will be unregulated.
No registered third party shall incur election advertising expenses that exceed in aggregate the amounts determined by the regulations. [S.165(1)]
Third parties must issue receipts for every advertising contribution accepted in the form and manner approved by the City where the third party is registered.
Registered third parties may transfer funds from their election advertising account to another registered third party’s accounts. Amounts transferred are not considered advertising contributions but must be recorded as to source and amount.
On or before March 1, 2022, registered third parties engaging in election advertising must file a report with the City about contributions received during the election advertising period (May 1 2021 to October 18 2021). The report details total advertising contributions received during the election advertising period that did not exceed $250 in the aggregate from any single contributor, and also details contributions totaling more than $250 with contributor names, addresses, and the amount and date for each advertising contribution. [S.180(2)]
On or before March 1, 2022, an additional election advertising return must be filed by the chief financial officer of a registered third party with the City, including a financial statement, a list of all advertising contributions received during the election advertising period (for contributions over $250 including the contributors name and address and the amount and date of each advertising contribution), an election advertising expense limit report, the time and place of broadcast or publication of the advertisements to which the election advertising expenses relate, and supporting information and documents relating to the election advertising return. [S.182(1)]
Failure to file a report and a return by registered third parties will result in a $500 late filing fee to the City.
Funds held by registered third parties in election advertising accounts with respect to an election advertising period continue to be held for use in a subsequent election advertising period for election advertising, and if not expended at the next election, must apply to cancel its registration with the city, and within 6 months must either transfer the funds to the election advertising accounts of other registered third parties, donate the funds to a registered charity, return the funds to the third party’s contributors if possible, or failing all that, pay the funds to the City.
Former political advertising accounts must be dealt with by May 1, 2021 (donating to a registered charity, returning funds to contributors, paying funds to the local jurisdiction).