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Thinking
about being
a Candidate

You're motivated to represent your community as their voice.
Learn about the steps involved in becoming a Keyword: candidate.

I
STAGE

STEP 1: Why run?

There are many reasons why you might decide to run in a federal election. You may have been recruited by a political party. Perhaps you want to make a difference in your community, or maybe you want to draw attention to an issue that matters to you. Maybe you have the right skills for the job, or you feel like your values are not represented in public policy and laws or the campaigns of other candidates. Running in a federal election is one way you can participate in the democratic process.

One of the first steps is understanding what it means to be a federal Member of Parliament (MP). The Library of Parliament has excellent resources on the roles and duties of an MP.

In this video, Deciding to Run, we explore some of the things that go into deciding to run as a candidate in an election. (EC commissioned resource)

Make a list of the reasons you want to run in a federal election


STEP 2: What's stopping me?

Our research shows that some Canadians face barriers to participating in elections, including running as a candidate. One of these barriers is having a clear understanding of the processes involved in running in an election. This guide is designed to reduce these informational barriers.

Some groups of Canadians face more barriers to running in an election than others. As far back as 1991, research for the Keyword: Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing showed that Canadians who identify as women, Indigenous and visible minorities work through more barriers when they are running in an election.

Since that time, Elections Canada has commissioned research on related topics (D'Aubin & Stienstra, 2004; Black & Hicks, 2006). Several parliamentary committees have studied issues related to barriers to becoming a candidate for women and other groups of Canadians. One study was Barriers Facing Women in Politics by The Standing Committee on the Status of Women.

Make a list of the things stopping you from being a candidate and the tools and resources available to help you break down these barriers.


In addition to information barriers, there are other types of barriers that may stop someone from being a candidate. Do any of the barriers on your list fit with these other common barriers? We might have some information to help you find a solution!

Finances

Did you know?

There is a limit to how much money a candidate can spend during an election, how much they can receive as political donations and how much they can contribute to their own campaign. That means that everyone has to fundraise, or seek financial contributions from supporters. To encourage donations, official receipts for income tax purposes can be issued for political contributions: check the Canada Revenue Agency for more information . Some campaign expenses can be reimbursed. To learn more: Chapter 16: Reimbursements and Subsidies of the Political Financing Handbook for Candidates and Official Agents (EC Resource).

Work–life balance

Did you know?

Running in a federal election takes a lot of time and energy. You'll need support from family and friends to make it to the end. Check out what some past and present candidates had to say about their experiences balancing work and life when running in a federal election. (EC Commissioned Resource).

Employment

Did you know?

In some cases, your employer must let you take a leave of absence from your job if you are running as a candidate. You might be paid during your leave of absence, and you also might not. This decision is up to your employer, check the Canada Elections Act for more information.

Other

Do the things stopping you from running in an election fit in none of these categories? Tell us what they are at Inspire Democracy. This will help us understand barriers. How can you break these barriers down? Share your ideas on ways to address these barriers.

Representation Matters

In a democracy, all citizens should feel that their elected officials represent them equally and fairly. The right to run as a candidate in a federal election is one that is included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Make a list of the things stopping you from being a candidate and the tools and resources available to help you break down these barriers.

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STEP 3: What do I need to know?

There are many things to think about before you decide to enter politics. Use these resources to learn about how government works and what political life is like:

In Deciding to Run, we discuss what's involved in being a member of Parliament, what's involved in running in a federal election, and suggests some questions to consider before you decide to run for Parliament.

(EC commissioned resource)

Write down the questions you have about running in a federal election, being a member of Parliament, or about politics in general. Next, use the resources listed above or talk to someone who has experience to help you answer your questions!

Don't forget to check out what some former candidates had to say about their experiences:

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