By Curtis Auch, Lawyer
As the dust settles following the October 18, 2021 municipal and school board general election, it can be tempting for candidates to leave the stress of the election season behind, forget about their busy campaigning days, and simply focus on the future.
This temptation should be resisted because, if you were a candidate, you have an important filing deadline coming up on March 1, 2022.
Section 147.4 of the Local Authorities Election Act requires candidates in the general election, whether or not they were successful, and whether they were candidates for a school board or for a municipal council, to file a campaign disclosure statement with the municipality or the school division they ran for, on or before March 1 following the general election. A campaign disclosure statement may have been included in your nomination package, otherwise review your local authority’s website or check with your local returning officer to obtain a copy of this form.
The form for the campaign disclosure statement is prescribed in the Local Authorities Election Forms Regulation. A completed statement must include a breakdown of financial contributions, fund-raising amounts, campaign expenses, any campaign surplus, and any deficit, among other details. Notably, the campaign disclosure statement must be filed even if the candidate withdrew their nomination, and even if the candidate received no financial contributions or other revenue and incurred no expenses.
The consequences for failing to file the statement in time can be severe:
- Section 147.7 imposes an automatic late-filing fee of $500 on any candidate who fails to file by the March 1 deadline, which the municipality or school division can enforce against the candidate as if it were a court judgment.
- If the filing is still not done by April 1, the candidate can be prosecuted for an offence under section 147.84 of the Local Authorities Election Act, and be held liable to a fine of up to $5,000.
- Most seriously, under section 174(1)(b.1) of the Municipal Government Act, a candidate who is a municipal councillor is disqualified from council if they fail to file the campaign disclosure statement by the March 1 deadline.
- As well, under section 147.8 of the Local Authorities Election Act, the secretary for the council or school board is required to send a report to the council or school board confirming the candidate’s failure to file (the report is then made public). Once the report is sent to the council or school board, under section 22 of the Local Authorities Election Act, the candidate becomes ineligible to be nominated as a candidate for election as a councillor or school board trustee for a period of either (i) 8 years after the report is sent, or (ii) 3 years after they file their campaign disclosure statement, whichever period expires first.
- The candidate can obtain relief from the above-noted disqualification and ineligibility consequences, but would need to do so by applying to the Court of Queen’s Bench within 60 days after the report is made public.
To avoid these potential consequences and ensure compliance with the Local Authorities Election Act, candidates must complete their required campaign disclosure statements and file the same with their school division or municipality on or before March 1, 2022. Don’t forget!
If you have any questions with respect to this bulletin, please contact Curtis at email@example.com or at 780.423.7516