On October 25, 2010, Ontarians went to the polls to elect their
civic officials, including Councillors, School Trustees and Mayors.
Although the elections are now over, fundraising activities can
still continue well into 2011.
Bill 212, entitled the Good Government Act, came into
force and effect on December 15, 2009. Bill 212 made some important
changes to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, which are
discussed in this article.
The first major changes relate to the dates of Nomination Day
and Voting Day:
Prior to the amendments, Voting Day was the 2nd Monday in
November. Now, Voting Day has been moved up by a few weeks, to the
4th Monday in October (i.e. this year, October 25th). The biggest
impact of this change is the significant hiatus of Council and
Committee meetings. For instance, in the City of Toronto, the last
Council meeting prior to the election was on August 25th‐
27th (for the previous election, the last Council meeting was
September 25‐28, 2006). The next Council meeting
won't take place until early December.
Nomination Day changed from the 45th day before Voting Day to
the 2nd Friday in September (this year, the last day to file a
nomination for all candidates was September 10th).
There are maximum contribution limits to candidates set out in
the Municipal Elections Act, 1996. The maximum
contribution that can be made by an individual to any one candidate
in an election is $750. The one exception to this rule is that, for
candidates running for the Office of Mayor of the City of Toronto,
there is a maximum contribution limit of $2,500 by any one
individual (Section 70.1(5) of the Municipal Elections Act,
Bill 212 also included a new provision establishing a maximum
contribution limit by any one individual of $5,000 overall, for two
or more candidates for office on the same Council or Local Board.
For some municipalities, this could be a significant issue. For
instance, in the City of Toronto, there are 44 Ward Councillors
plus the Mayor.
Under Bill 212, the City of Toronto is also allowed to pass a
by‐law prohibiting contributions from trade unions and
business corporations. The City is the only municipality to which
the Province has granted this authority. The City did adopt such a
by‐law, No. 1177‐2009 and, therefore, donations
by trade unions and business corporations to election campaigns in
the City of Toronto are prohibited. The maximum fine for
contravening this by‐law is $50,000. Some candidate
councillors are taking this prohibition even further by refusing
contributions from individuals registered as lobbyists on the
One final revision which should be highlighted relates to the
maximum amount candidates can spend on their campaigns. Prior to
Bill 212, Mayoral candidates could spend $7,500 plus 70 cents for
each elector entitled to vote as of Nomination Day. The maximum
amount for all other candidates was $5,000 plus 70 cents for each
elector. Bill 212 adjusted the amounts for maximum campaign expense
limits by increasing the per‐elector amount from 70 cents
to 85 cents per elector. Also, it set the maximum expense limit to
the greater of:
the number of eligible voters on the previous election voting
the number of eligible voters on the current election voting
This is an important change as many campaigns start well in
advance of Nomination Day and, therefore, allows these campaigns to
have some certainty that if they spend no more than the expense
limit for the previous election, they will not be found to be in
breach of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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