Can You Run in an Election if You’re in Trouble With the Law? 

Understanding the Law

Former US president Donald Trump has announced he’s running for president again, even though he’s facing criminal charges for fraud and obstruction of justice. What if he wanted to run for election in Quebec? Could a person facing criminal charges or convicted of a crime run for office here? 

Innocent until proven guilty 

Because a person facing criminal charges is innocent until proven guilty (that is, until convicted by a court), no law prevents them from running for office in Quebec. Donald Trump is facing charges, but has not been convicted, so that in itself would not prevent him from running in a Quebec election. 

If a person has been convicted 

If someone was convicted of a crime, but has completed their sentence, they can run in a Quebec election despite having a criminal record. They could therefore serve in the National Assembly if elected.  If they are still serving a sentence, and the crime in question carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison (or more), they would be excluded from serving in the National Assembly until they have completed their sentence.  

Some people are excluded from running in elections in Quebec. These include: 

  • judges, 
  • the Chief Electoral Officer, 
  • returning officers, 
  • official agents of a candidate or a political party, and 
  • members of the Parliament of Canada 

Temporary exclusions also apply to someone who ran in a previous election and has not yet paid all the debts resulting from their election expenses, or whose official agent has not filed a return of election expenses. 

For qualified electors only 

To run in a Quebec election, you must also be allowed to vote. This means you must  

  • be at least 18, 
  • be a Canadian citizen, and 
  • have lived in Quebec for at least six months 

So, if you meet these three criteria, and do not fall under one of the above-mentioned exclusions, you can run in the next provincial election. Since Donald Trump is not a Canadian citizen, nor a Quebec resident, he could not run against you! 

After the elections 

The successful candidates represent us in the National Assembly, the legislative body that proposes provincial laws and adopts them by majority vote. 

Elections for the National Assembly are held every four years on the first Monday of October. However, the government can trigger early elections by calling on the Lieutenant Governor to dissolve the National Assembly before the four years are up.  

Did you know?

Canada is a constitutional monarchy in which the Head of State is King Charles III. He is represented in Quebec by Lieutenant Governor Michel Doyon, who delegates his executive powers to the Premier and the members of his Cabinet, and delegates his legislative powers to the National Assembly.

In practice, the role of Lieutenant Governor is a symbolic one. Like Canada, Quebec is a parliamentary democracy.