So the rumour mill says that the Liberals may call a Federal election in August.

Hopefully, we will not have the misinformation about charities and elections as we saw in 2019.

Essentially, if you are a registered charity there are 3 sets of rules that are relevant to your participation in “political activities” around the time of the election.  There is the Income Tax Act (Canada) limitations on registered charities which applies only to registered charities and not NPOs.  There are Canada Elections Act and Third Party Advertising registration requirements that can apply to both NPOs and registered charities.  Finally, there are Lobbying Act (Federal) requirements that NPOs and charities need to be mindful of in a Federal election.

Each regime has different rationales, different definitions, rules, limitations, and requirements.

As I said in 2019 “There are many many many things that a charity can do during an election that are compliant with the ITA requirements and don’t require registration under the Canada Elections Act as a third party.  However, if as an example you want to during the election period boost your Facebook posts on an election issue and if you are going to spend more than $500 then you will have to register under the Canada Elections Act.”

As this is not a fixed-term election as was in 2019, the amount of time covered by the Canada Elections Act and Third Party Advertising registration requirements will be less.  About 35–50 days rather than 4 months.  Therefore some groups may decide not to do the “regulated activities” during that election period.   However, it is my view that if you are dealing with important issues that should be discussed during the election then it often makes sense for an NPO or registered charity to register under the Canada Elections Act and Third Party Advertising registration requirements.   For registered charities, CRA has made it clear that there is no problem registering with Elections Canada.  It is clearly not appropriate to ignore the rules and just conduct regulated activities over the $500 threshold.   It is also ethically questionable for groups who say that involvement in the political process is very important, to then just go silent during an election period.