Contributions to Candidates and Third Party Advertisers
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A third party advertisement is an ad that supports, promotes or opposes a candidate, or supports, promotes or opposes a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot.
The meaning of ”third party” in this context is a person or entity who is not a candidate. Eligible individuals, corporations and trade unions can register to be third party advertisers. Third party advertising is separate from any candidate’s campaign, and must be done independently from a candidate.
If you want to spend money on third party advertisements during the election you must register first with the municipal clerk, and must file a financial statement.
For more information on third party advertising, please see the Third Party Advertisers’ Guide.
Who can make contributions
Any person who is a resident of Ontario can make a contribution to a candidate’s campaign or contribute to a third party advertiser to help fund their advertisements.
Corporations carrying on business in Ontario, and trade unions that hold bargaining rights for employees in Ontario, are not permitted to make contributions to candidates in municipal elections in Ontario. However, they may contribute to third party advertisers.
Groups such as neighbourhood associations, clubs or professional associations, such as fire or police associations, are not eligible to make financial contributions to candidates or third party advertisers. Members may contribute individually.
You may contribute a maximum of $1,200 to a single candidate ($2,500 to a mayoral candidate in the City of Toronto). You may also contribute a maximum of $1,200 to a third party advertiser. These amounts include the value of any goods or services donated to the campaign. You may not contribute more than $5,000 in total to candidates running for offices on the same council or school board, or to third party advertisers who are registered in the same municipality.
If you buy a ticket to a candidate’s or third party advertiser’s fundraiser, the cost of the ticket is a contribution.
Other rules regarding contributions
Any contribution of money must come directly from the contributor. You are not permitted to pool contributions from others and then forward that money to a candidate’s campaign or to a third party advertiser. If a contribution is made from a joint account, it must be clear which person is making the contribution.
Contributions greater than $25 may not be made in cash. All contributions above $25 must be made by cheque, money order, or by a method that clearly shows where the funds came from.
If the total value of the contributions you’ve made to a candidate or to a third party advertiser is greater than $100, your name and address will be recorded in the candidate’s or third party advertiser’s financial statement. The financial statement is a public document.
Contributions to municipal council and school board candidates, and third party advertisers are not tax deductible. Your municipality may have a contribution rebate program in place if you contribute to a candidate. However, municipal contribution rebate programs do not apply to contributions to third party advertisers. You should contact your municipal clerk for more information.
Candidates and third party advertisers are not permitted to return unused contributions to contributors. If the candidate or third party advertiser has a surplus at the end of their campaign, they must turn that money over to the municipality.
Review of contributions
Contributions that are reported on candidates’ or third party advertisers’ financial statements will be reviewed by the municipal clerk to check that they comply with the rules.
If a candidate’s financial statements show that a contributor gave more than $1,200 to a candidate ($2,500 to a mayoral candidate in Toronto), or if they show that a contributor gave more than $5,000 total to candidates running for the same municipality or school board, the clerk will report this to the compliance audit committee.
If the financial statements show that a contributor gave more than $1,200 to a third party advertiser, or if they show that a contributor gave more than $5,000 total to third party advertisers registered in the same municipality, the clerk will also report this to the compliance audit committee.
The compliance audit committee will meet and determine whether the municipality (or school board) should begin court proceedings against the contributor.
If you want to contribute to a candidate or third party advertiser, you should make sure that you know what the contribution limits are and keep track of your donations to ensure that you don’t end up giving more than is permitted.