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Candidates in Canadian Federal Elections

Requirements for Candidates in Canadian Federal Elections


Dateline: 9/30/11

What is a Candidate in a Canadian Federal Election?

A candidate in a Canadian federal election is a person who is seeking election as a member of parliament in a federal general election or by-election. Each federal registered political party can nominate one candidate in each riding. Candidates can also run as Independents or with no party affiliation.

Eligibility of Federal Candidates

A candidate in a Canadian federal election must be a Canadian citizen who is 18 years or older on election day. A candidate does not need to live in the riding or be on the voters list for the riding in which s/he is seeking election, although it does improve his or her chances of winning. A candidate can seek election in only one riding at a time.

Candidates Must Appoint Official Agent and Auditor

Each prospective candidate in a federal election must appoint an official agent and an auditor accredited under provincial law to perform accounting services. An official agent must be appointed before the candidate's campaign accepts any political contributions or incurs any election campaign expenses.

Party Nominations of Candidates

The procedures by which parties nominate candidates are up to the rules of each registered political party.

Candidates File Nomination Papers

Each prospective candidate must file nomination papers with the returning office of the riding in which s/he intends to be a candidate. The nomination papers must be signed by at least 100 people who are eligible to vote in the riding in which the prospective candidate wishes to run. (In very large or remote ridings the minimum number of signatures is 50.) The candidate also has to pay a deposit of $1000.

The nomination papers must be received by the returning officer by the 21st day before election day.

Candidates With Party Affiliation or Independents

Since 1972 the candidate's party has appeared after his or her name on the ballot. A candidate wishing to be endorsed by a registered political party and have the party's name appear on the ballot must include a letter of endorsement signed by the leader of the party or by a designated party representative.

Otherwise the prospective candidate must include whether he or she wants to be designated as "Independent" on the ballot or to have no designation at all appear on the ballot. In Canadian federal elections most candidates are judged by their affiliation with a political party. It is difficult and rare for an Independent or unaffiliated candidate to be elected.

How to Find Candidates Running in a Canadian Federal Elections

During a Canadian federal election, candidates are listed by individual Canadian federal political parties. Elections Canada's Voter Information Service also provides names of candidates by riding. The Elections Canada site usually will also provide a full list of all confirmed candidates. This long list is a large file available in .txt or Excel, and contains only the basics. It may provide contact information for the candidates, but for biographies you will have to go to the individual party sites.

Historical Listings of Candidates in Canadian Federal Elections

Elections Canada also provides historical listings of the final candidates in Canadian federal elections since 2000. The lists are broken down by province.

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