The Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (MEA), requires that every municipality appoint a Compliance Audit Committee prior to October 1, 2014. The MEA enables a qualified elector who believes on reasonable grounds that a candidate has contravened the election campaign finance provisions of the MEA to apply to the Clerk in writing requesting a compliance audit of the candidate's election campaign finances.
The following is a brief overview of the compliance audit application and review process:
- an application must be made within 90 days of a candidates' financial statement filing deadline, it must be made in writing and it must "set out the reasons for the elector's belief";
- within 30 days of receiving an application, it must be decided whether to grant or reject the application;
- within 15 days after the decision is made, it may be appealed to the Ontario Court of Justice and the Court may make any decision that the local authority could have made;
- if the request is granted, an auditor licensed under the Public Accounting Act, 2004, shall be appointed to conduct the compliance audit. The auditor is granted broad powers for the purpose of conducting the audit and the auditor's costs are paid by the municipality;
- the auditor shall conduct the audit and prepare a report which outlines apparent contraventions, if any;
- the auditor's report shall be considered within 30 days and legal proceedings to address any apparent contraventions may be commenced against the candidate; and
- if the auditor's report indicates that there have been no apparent contraventions and it is determined that there are no reasonable grounds for the application, the auditor's costs may be recovered from the applicant.