What is a Compliance Audit Committee?
The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (MEA, 1996) requires an outgoing municipal council to establish a Compliance Audit Committee on or before October 1st in the year of an election. The powers and functions of the Committee are provided under the MEA, 1996.
An elector who is entitled to vote in an election and believes on reasonable grounds that a candidate has contravened a provision of the MEA, 1996 relating to election campaign finances may apply for a compliance audit of the candidate's election campaign finances. Committee members generally include auditors, accountants, lawyers, academics and other individuals with knowledge of the campaign financing rules as set out in the MEA, 1996.
Clerks from all member municipalities within Wellington County have worked together to form the Joint Compliance Audit Committee, consisting of four (4) members who will act as the Joint Audit Compliance Committee for all seven (7) municipalities. Each of the seven (7) municipalities have passed By-laws to Establish a Joint Compliance Audit Committee and to Appoint Members of a Joint Compliance Audit Committee. Clerks from all municipalities within Wellington County have reviewed and agreed the Terms of Reference for the Joint Compliance Audit Committee, and presented them to Council for approval.
Bylaw 2022-60 To Establish a Joint Compliance Audit Committee
Bylaw 2022-61 To Appoint Members of a Joint Compliance Audit Committee
Wellington County Joint Compliance Audit Committee Terms of Reference
What Does a Compliance Audit Committee Do?
The Compliance Audit Committee receives and makes decisions on applications for compliance audits of campaign finances for Council candidates and registered third party advertisers in a municipal election or by-election.
The functions of a Compliance Audit Committee includes:
- Considering whether an application for a compliance audit filed by an elector should be granted or rejected
- Appointing an auditor, if the application is granted
- Receiving and considering the auditor’s report and deciding whether legal proceedings should be commenced
- Determining whether to recover the costs of conducting the compliance audit from the applicant if the auditor’s report indicates there were no apparent contraventions and if there were no reasonable grounds for the application
The Committee also considers reports from the Clerk identifying contributors who appear to have contravened election contribution limits and decides whether legal proceedings should commence.
Compliance Audit Application Process:
- An application for an audit must be made to the Clerk of the Municipality within ninety (90) days after the financial filing date.
- The Clerk of the Municipality shall forward the application to the Committee within ten (10) days of receipt.
- Within thirty (30) days after the Committee has received the application, the committee shall consider the application and decide whether there are reasonable grounds to request an audit.
- If the Committee decides to grant the application, an auditor shall be appointed to conduct a compliance audit of the candidate's election campaign finances.
- The auditor shall promptly conduct an audit of the candidate's election campaign finances to determine whether they have complied with the provisions of the MEA, 1996 relating to election campaign finances and shall prepare a report outlining any apparent contravention by the candidate. That report is submitted to the Candidate, Council and the Clerk of the Municipality. The Clerk then has ten (10) days to forward it to the Committee.
- The Committee shall consider the report within thirty (30) days after receiving it and, if the report concludes that the candidate appears to have contravened a provision of the MEA, 1996 relating to election campaign finances, the Committee shall decide whether to commence a legal proceedings against the candidate for the apparent contravention. If the report concludes that the candidate did not contravene the MEA, 1996, the Committee must make a finding as to whether there were reasonable grounds for the request for the audit. If the Committee determines that there were no reasonable grounds, then the Council is entitled to recover the auditor's costs from the applicant.