Canada: Election-Time Reminder Of Political Contribution Rules

Last Updated: September 19 2011
Article by Guy W. Giorno

With five fixed-date provincial general elections and two territorial general elections occurring this Fall, businesses and others should ensure they are complying with the rules governing political contributions in each province and territory.

Election Dates

In 2011, general elections will be held in the following provinces and territories: Manitoba (Oct. 4), Newfoundland and Labrador (Oct. 11), Northwest Territories (Oct. 3), Ontario (Oct. 6), Prince Edward Island (Oct. 3), Saskatchewan (Nov. 7) and Yukon (Oct. 11).

This bulletin does not address the law in Canadian jurisdictions that are not holding general elections in Fall 2011. References such as "everywhere" and "all jurisdictions" must be read accordingly.

General Principles

Many jurisdictions limit the size of political contributions, and some limit the types of contributors.  For example, Manitoba does not allow corporations or trade unions to contribute and some jurisdictions do not allow non-residents to contribute.

All provinces and territories impose similar rules to ensure the openness and transparency of the system.  Rules that tend to be consistent across the country include the following:

  • The amounts of political contributions, except very small ones, and the identities of their contributors, are publicly disclosed.
  • A person may not make a contribution with funds that do not belong to the person.1
  • A person may not make a contribution with funds given by another for that purpose.2
  • The receipt must be issued in the name of the contributor.
  • The value of donated goods and services is typically treated as a contribution.

In the case of contributions made through fundraising dinners or receptions, the motivation for purchasing a ticket does not alter the fact that the purchase is a political contribution.  For example, a business might buy tickets to a political reception for the purpose of networking or to speak to certain individuals expected to be present.  Regardless of the reason for attending the reception, a political contribution has been made.

The rule against making contributions with the funds of another applies to tickets to political fundraising events.  If a corporation is going to pay for a ticket (in jurisdictions where corporate contributions are allowed), then the purchase should be made by company cheque; it is not appropriate for an employee to pay, claim the contribution as his or her own and then be reimbursed by the employer.  If an individual is going to buy a ticket, then the individual must use his or her own money; the individual cannot later be reimbursed by the company.

Contribution Limits

Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan and Yukon do not limit the size of contributions.  Manitoba limits an individual's total political contributions (to one or more candidates, constituency associations and political parties) to $3000. The Northwest Territories limits contributions to $1500 per candidate, but contributions of office space and transportation services are exempt from the limit.

Ontario limits contributions in a calendar year to $9300 per party and $1240 per riding association (to a maximum of $6200 to the riding associations of each party). In addition, during a campaign period, one may contribute up to an additional $9300 per party and $1240 per candidate (to a maximum of $6200 to the candidates of each party).

More specific detail appears in the jurisdictional summaries at the end of this bulletin.

Contributions of Goods, Services and Labour

As a general rule, political contributions include donations of money and donations of goods or services.

In jurisdictions where the size of contributions is capped, the cap applies to the total value of money, goods and services that have been contributed. Goods and services are typically valued based on their commercial or market value.

Providing volunteer labour – that is, activity on behalf of a political party or candidate for which an individual receives no compensation – is not a contribution. This exception applies to genuine volunteer labour: in all jurisdictions but Ontario, if an employer pays an employee to campaign (i.e., if campaigning takes place on the employer's time) then the employer has made a political contribution equivalent, depending on jurisdiction, to the amount of the employee's salary or the value of the employee's services. Based on the interpretation of Elections Ontario, the rule in Ontario is different: If an employee agrees to be assigned to a political campaign while remaining on the employer's payroll, then neither the employer nor the employee is considered to have made a contribution.3

In some jurisdictions (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island), self-employed  individuals cannot volunteer services that they otherwise sell to paying customers. Where a self-employed individual gives away such service for free, he or she is deemed to have made a political contribution for the value of the service.

Contribution of Advertising

Special rules govern advertising, the contribution of advertising and advertising by third parties. Before undertaking any of these activities it is prudent to obtain legal advice.

Non-Resident Contributions

Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and Yukon allow contributions from individuals and corporations that are not residents of the province or territory.  Saskatchewan also allows contributions from outside the province, but requires that the contributor be a Canadian resident or Canadian citizen.

Manitoba restricts contributions to an individual normally resident in the province.  The Northwest Territories restricts contributions to individuals resident in the Northwest Territories, corporations carrying on business in the Northwest Territories and associations and organizations operating in the Northwest Territories.  Ontario does not permit contributions from a person normally resident outside Ontario, a corporation that does not carry on business in Ontario or a trade union that does not hold bargaining rights for Ontario workers.


The Elections Finances Act4 restricts political contributions to individuals normally resident in Manitoba.  Therefore, corporations and trade unions are not allowed to contribute.  In each calendar year, an individual may contribute $3000 in aggregate to one or more candidates, constituency associations and registered political parties, or any combination of them.

The donation of a good or service worth less than $25 is not a contribution, except that after an individual has made two such donations in a year to the same candidate, leadership contestant, riding association or party, any subsequent donation of a good or service in the same year is a contribution.

An anonymous contribution of more than $10 may not be retained.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Elections Act, 19915 places no limits on the size of political contributions.  Only individuals, corporations and trade unions may contribute.

Individuals may contribute whether or not they reside in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Corporations may contribute whether or not they carry on business in the province.  Trade unions may contribute whether or not they hold bargaining rights for employees in the province.

An anonymous contribution greater than $100 may not be retained.

Contributions from individuals, corporations and trade unions may be made through an unincorporated association or organization (other than a trade union) provided that the individual sources and amounts making up the contribution are recorded.

Contributions from trade unions are considered to be made by the unions and not by their individual members.

Neither a trade union nor an employer shall make contributions through payroll deductions or make it a condition of employment or union membership that an individual make a political contribution.

Northwest Territories

There are no political parties in the Northwest Territories. All candidates run as independents.

The Elections and Plebicites Act6 prohibits a contribution from being made outside the campaign period.  For this general election, the campaign period begins on the date that a candidate is nominated and ends Oct. 3.

No individual, corporation, association or organization may contribute more than $1500 to each candidate.  The $1500 limit applies to the total value of all monetary and non-monetary contributions to the candidate, subject to two exceptions:  contributions of transportation services and office premises may exceed $1500 in value.  (There is no limit on the value of transportation services and office space that may be contributed.)

An anonymous contribution may not exceed $100.

A contributor must be an individual who is resident in the Northwest Territories, a corporation that carries on business in the Northwest Territories or an association or organization that operates in the Northwest Territories. 


The Election Finances Act7 states that contributions may only be made by an individual normally resident in Ontario, a corporation that carries on business in Ontario (and is not a registered charity) and a trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario (including a central, regional or district labour council.)

The law imposes the following limits on the total size of contributions in any calendar year:

  • $9300 to each party
  • $1240 to each constituency association, to an aggregate maximum of $6200 to the constituency associations of any one party

During a campaign period, which in this case runs from Sept. 7 to Jan. 6, 2012, a contributor may provide up to:

  • an additional $9300 to each party
  • $1240 to each candidate, to an aggregate maximum of $6200 to the candidates of any one party

Effectively this means that in an election year the limits on the sizes of contributions are doubled.

Associated corporations8 may contribute separately and are subject to separate contribution limits, so long as each one carries on an active business.9  Otherwise the corporations are treated as a single contributor.

No anonymous contribution (except a contribution of up to $10 collected at a meeting) is permitted.

Contributions may be made through an unincorporated association or organization (other than a trade union) provided that the individual sources and amounts making up the contribution are recorded.

If the value of goods or services provided in a calendar year or in a campaign period does not exceed $100, then the provider of the goods or services may elect not to treat them as a political contribution.

Prince Edward Island

The Prince Edward Island Election Expenses Act10 places no limit on the size of political contributions.  Only individuals, corporations and trade unions may contribute.  Contributions may be made by non-residents.

Any contribution from an anonymous donor is forfeited to the Crown.


The Election Act, 199611 does not limit on the size of political contributions. 

Individuals, corporations, trade unions and unincorporated organizations may make contributions.

A contributor must be resident in Canada or, if not resident in the country, must be a Canadian citizen.

No person shall make an anonymous contribution in excess of $250.


The Elections Act (Yukon)12 does not limit the size of contributions. Contributions may be made by individuals, corporations or trade unions and other unincorporated groups.

There are no restrictions on contributions from non-residents.

A candidate or registered political party shall not accept an anonymous contribution.

Where a trade union's contribution results from a collection from the union's members, the contribution is considered to be a contribution from the trade union.  Otherwise the trade union must submit a statement disclosing the name and address of and the amount contributed by each contributor of more than $250 to the total contribution (or indicating that there are no contributors of more than $250 if that is the case). Any other unincorporated contributor must submit the same information.


1. For example, the Saskatchewan law states that "No person shall make a contribution ... unless the contribution is paid out of moneys to which that person is beneficially entitled."

2. See, for example, the Manitoba law, which provides that "No individual shall contribute ... (a) any money, goods or services not actually belonging to the individual; or (b) any money, goods or services that have been given or furnished to the individual by another person or an organization for the purpose of making the contribution." For greater certainty, the Manitoba statute prohibits an individual from making a contribution expecting to be reimbursed or compensated for all or part of its value by another person or organization and prohibits any person or organization form reimbursing or otherwise compensating or offering to reimburse or otherwise compensate any individual for all or any part of the value of a contribution.

3. Elections Ontario. (2011). CFO handbook for candidates, pp. 19-20.

4. C.C.S.M., c. E32.

5. S.N.L. 1992, c. E-3.1.

6. S.N.W.T. 2006, c.15.

7. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.7.

8. Within the meaning of s. 256 of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

9. As defined in para. 125(7)(a) of the Income Tax Act (Canada).

10.   R.S.P.E.I. 1988, c. E-2.01.

11.   S.S. 1996, c. E-6.01, most recently amended by S.S. 2011, c. 5.

12.   R.S.Y. 2002, c. 63, am. S.Y. 2004, c. 9.

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.