With a federal election scheduled for October 19, 2015, recent amendments to the Canada Elections Act will soon be put into practice. The Fair Elections Act (FEA) passed on June 12, 2014, has increased individual contribution limits and changed elector identification requirements.
Contributions to political parties, associations or candidates by persons or entities other than Canadian citizens or permanent residents continue to be prohibited, so no corporate or union contributions are allowed. However, the FEA has increased contribution limits from C$1,200 to C$1,500 as of January 1, 2015. Accordingly, under the new rules, no individual is permitted to make contributions exceeding C$1,500 in any given calendar year to:
- A registered party
- A registered party’s candidates, nomination contestants and registered associations
- Any candidate, including those that are not candidates of registered parties
- Any leadership contestant
The amounts of all individual contributions, guarantees and unpaid balances on loans entered into during the relevant contribution period all count towards an individual’s overall contribution limit. These contributions apply to the full calendar year, whether or not there is an election period in that year.
The new identification requirements established by the FEA permit electors to identify themselves in one of three ways:
- By showing one piece of government-issued identification that includes your name, address and photo, such as a driver’s licence (a passport is not sufficient for this purpose)
- By showing one piece of identification that includes your name and a second piece of identification that includes both your name and address
- By showing two pieces of identification that include your name, swearing a written oath with respect to your residence and having your residence attested to on oath by another elector
These new identification requirements effectively remove the practice of vouching, whereby electors who met the identification requirements were able to attest to the name and address of electors who were unable to meet these requirements. Under the new rules, electors can have a third party take an oath with respect to their address, but must still produce two pieces of identification that include their name. In addition, the use of voter information cards as a form of identification is now explicitly prohibited.
These new requirements will change the way certain classes of voters establish eligibility to vote. For example, young adults living at home who do not have a driver’s license will now be required to bring one piece of identification showing their name, such as a health card, Canadian passport, birth certificate, credit card, debit card, or student card, and one piece of identification showing their address, such as a bank statement, credit card statement, personal cheque, or income tax assessment.
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