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Becoming
a Candidate

You've made the decision to become a candidate in the next federal election.
To get your name on the Keyword: ballot, you'll need to take a few steps.

II
STAGE

Keyword: The Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy brought together past and current candidates to talk about how they became candidates.

(EC commissioned resource)

For a quick overview of what you need to know about becoming a candidate, check out this video made by our Political Financing team.

8 Steps to Becoming a Candidate

  • 1

    Check that you are allowed to become a candidate. Part 6 of the Canada Elections Act outlines the details.

  • 2

    Decide between running with a political party or as an independent candidate.

  • 3

    Select an official agent.

  • 4

    Have your official agent open a bank account for your campaign. You can do this before or after you have submitted your nomination. Once your bank account is open, you can start collecting and spending money for your campaign.

  • 5

    Get your Nomination Paper or create a Political Entities Service Centre (PESC) account to access the online nomination form.

  • 6

    Complete the nomination process.

  • 7

    Once the election is officially underway, submit your nomination to the returning officer.

  • 8

    Within 48 hours, receive confirmation from the returning officer that your nomination has been accepted. Congratulations, you're officially a candidate!

STEP 4: Can I be a candidate?

Use this checklist at the time you are submitting your nomination paper to make sure you are eligible to be a candidate in a federal election:

This is just a partial list. For the complete list, see section 65 of the Canada Elections Act.

If you have any questions about your eligibility to be a candidate, contact Elections Canada at 1 800‑486‑6563.

Did you know?

You can run as a candidate for election in one Keyword: electoral district at a time. However, you do not need to live in the district to run in it!


Make sure you are allowed to run as a candidate.

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STEP 5: Political party or independant?

You can be a candidate for a Keyword: registered political party, as long as you are officially endorsed by that party. If the party endorses you, it means they have chosen you to represent them in your electoral district. The process for becoming a candidate for a political party is different for each party.

Check out this video on Launching your Bid (EC commissioned resource) or contact the party of your choice for more information on their candidate nomination process.

Check the Elections Canada list of Canada's registered federal political parties.

Here is another Elections Canada resource you might need if you decide to run for a political party: Becoming a political party nomination contestant. If a political party chooses you to represent them in a federal election, make sure they include your name on the list of endorsed candidates they give to Elections Canada.

Did you know?

You can also run as a candidate of an unregistered party.

You can also run as an Keyword: independent candidate, which means you are not representing any of the registered federal political parties.

In Launching your Bid, we explore some of the differences between running as a candidate of a political party and running as an independent candidate.

(EC commissioned resource)

Decide if you are going to run as a member of a political party, or as an independent.

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STEP 6: Who do I need on my team?

Before you can become a candidate, accept any Keyword: contributions or spend any money related to your campaign, you must first choose your Keyword: official agent. Official agents play a key role in running a campaign, and their job continues until well after the election has passed. Watch this video, created by the Political Financing Team at Elections Canada, to learn more.

An official agent

  1. Your official agent is the person who takes care of the Keyword: political financing related to your campaign and submits your financial reports to Elections Canada.
  2. This person has a lot of responsibility, including authorizing any advertising that you may use during a campaign. They are also responsible for financial transactions and reporting on them, so the official agent should be someone who is qualified and who you know very well and trust very much.
  3. Your official agent must be a Canadian citizen at least 18 years old.

For more information about your official agent, check out this chart: Role and Appointment Process – Official Agent

Did you know?

You no longer need to choose an auditor before you can officially become a candidate. You will only need an auditor if your campaign receives or spends $10,000 or more, or if you get at least 10% of the total votes.


Appoint your official agent. You can't become a candidate without one.

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STEP 7: How do I start my campaign?

Before you start your campaign, your official agent opens your campaign bank account. There is a package for official agents developed by the Political Financing team at Elections Canada to help with the process.

Remember: You don't have to be a confirmed candidate to have an official agent, a bank account, or to spend or receive contributions. But, you cannot give tax receipts to anyone who gives contributions before you are officially confirmed by the returning officer. For more information, please see the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC Resource).

Did you know?

As long as you have an official agent and a bank account, your campaign can spend money or accept contributions of money, property, or services from people. You can read more about the electoral campaign expenses.

Your official agent opens your campaign bank account.

  • The account needs to be with a Canadian financial institution, or an authorized foreign bank.

  • All transactions related to the campaign must go through the campaign bank account, unless they involve the payment of personal or litigation expenses.

  • The campaign bank account must only be used for the campaign and you cannot use an account used for a previous general election or by-election.

  • This bank account stays open until the campaign fulfills all financial obligations, such as paying back any loans and submitting reports with Elections Canada.

  • Decide how your team will keep track of election expenses to make sure that you do not spend more than you are allowed to (see Chapter 7: Electoral Campaign Expenses, in the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents).

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STEP 8: How do I officially become a candidate?

  • 1

    When an election is called, enter the postal code of the electoral district where you want to run into the online tool posted on the Elections Canada website to find the contact information for your returning officer and any other information you might need about your electoral district.
  • 2

    Create an account through the Political Entities Service Centre (PESC) to fill out your online nomination form. Alternatively, get your Nomination Paper from the Elections Canada website or your returning officer.
  • 3

    Fill out the Nomination Paper or the online form by following the instructions in Step 9: How Do I Complete the Nomination Paper?
  • 4

    Give your Nomination Paper to the returning officer in person or submit the online form any time between the day the election is called and the 21st day before election day.
 

Get your Nomination Paper from your returning officer or the Elections Canada website.

Did you know?

Elections Canada now offers online services through PESC. You can complete and submit your candidate nomination through our e‑nomination platform! For more information, visit PESC.

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STEP 9: How do I complete the Nomination Paper?

Use this chart to make sure you've filled out all the sections of the Nomination Paper. The online nomination form in the Political Entities Service Centre (PESC) makes this easy!

Candidates can delegate tasks
Section Details Who is involved?

A
Candidate Information (mandatory)

Give your name and other personal information. You'll need to provide proof of identification using ID from this list.

If the name you want to appear on the ballot is different from your given name, you will need to prove that you are known by that name using ID from this list.

List your Keyword: political affiliation (the name of the political party you're running for), or "independent" (if you will not run for a political party) or leave this line blank.

You (the candidate)

Confirm with your political party that they've included your name on their list of endorsed candidates.

A
Candidate Declaration and Signature (mandatory)

Make the candidate's solemn declaration before an authorized individual.

A witness who meets the criteria in subsection 549(1) of the Canada Elections Act must receive your declaration free of charge.

You (the candidate)

An individual who is authorized to receive solemn declarations can include

  • a judge
  • an election officer
  • a notary public
  • a justice of the peace
  • a commissioner for taking oaths in the province

B
Campaign Delegate (optional)

This section is optional. If you choose to authorize someone to act on your behalf for certain purposes during the election, you must fill out this section. This person is called the campaign delegate. The campaign delegate can submit the Nomination

You (the candidate) and your campaign delegate

C
Official Agent (mandatory)

Give the name and other personal information for your official agent. The official agent also signs the privacy notice and declaration page.

Official agent

D
Auditor (optional)

Complete this section if you need an auditor. Your campaign needs an auditor if

  • the campaign receives or spends $10,000 or more, or
  • you get 10% or more of the total votes in your electoral district.

You might not need to fill out this part of the form now. If you meet these requirements later, you must come back and complete Section D of the Nomination Paper with the auditor's information.

The auditor signs the privacy notice and declaration page.

Auditor (if you need one)

E
Campaign Office (optional)

This section is optional. You can choose to give the telephone number, website or links to social media platforms to be included in the Voter Information Service on Elections Canada's website.

This information can help electors access your campaign information.

You (the candidate) or your campaign delegate

Did you know?

In most electoral districts, candidates need 100 signatures on the Nomination Paper, but in some, you need only 50 signatures. These districts are mostly in rural or remote areas. Check this list to see if your electoral district is one of these places.


Fill out all the parts of the Nomination Paper.


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STEP 10: How do I file the Nomination Paper?

Get your Nomination Paper to your returning officer by 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before the election.

Make an appointment with the returning officer to make sure everything is done. If you file online, call your returning officer to receive your nomination submission key.

Make sure that the returning officer receives all your documents before the close of nominations.

Nominations can be filed in person at your Elections Canada office or electronically using the Political Entities Service Centre (PESC) Portal.

If you file online, your returning officer will give you a nomination submission key.

Quick Tips to File Your Nomination Paper

  • Submit your papers early! That way you have time to fix anything if the returning officer asks you to make changes.

  • It's a good idea to make an appointment with the returning officer when you are ready to file.

  • Check that the names and addresses of the electors who signed Section F are easy to read, complete and clear. This will help the returning officer review your file quickly.

  • Get more signatures than you need – we recommend getting 50 more than required. That way, if there are any issues with any of the electors on your list when your returning officer reviews the signatures, you will still have enough. Once nominations are closed, you cannot provide more signatures.

  • You can make a few changes, such as your name, address, and occupation, once your nomination has been confirmed. These changes must be made before 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations.

  • Filing your documents online is a good way to make sure you have everything covered. The online application won't let you file if documents are missing from your submission.

Your Nomination Paper needs to be filed by 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before the election. Double check the following:

  1. The complete Nomination Paper or online form.
  2. If you're running as a candidate for a political party, contact the returning officer ahead of time and verify that the party has submitted your name.
  3. Have your ID ready. If you're applying online, you'll need a signed copy of your ID.
  4. If you want your name on the ballot to be different from what is on your ID, you'll need to provide proof that you are known by that name.
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STEP 11: How do I know if I am officially a candidate?

After you submit your nomination, the returning officer has 48 hours to review your Nomination Paper and confirm the electors' signatures. The returning officer will contact you to let you know if your nomination has been confirmed or refused.

Reminder: If your Nomination Paper is incomplete, you may correct it or file a new copy before the close of nominations (2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before election day).

If you have more questions about the nomination process, visit our website.

What if I change my mind about running as a candidate?

You can withdraw your name as a candidate up until 5:00 p.m. on the closing day for nominations. Give the returning officer a written statement signed by you and two electors from your electoral district.

Did you know?

Once you are a confirmed candidate, your name will appear on the List of Candidates in your electoral district on the Voter Information Service. Your returning officer will also provide you with information products about your electoral district that may help you with your campaign.


The returning officer confirms that your Nomination Paper has been accepted. You're officially a candidate!

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