Commissioner of Canada Elections
Canada Elections Act
This notice is published by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, pursuant to section 521.34 (2) of the Canada Elections Act, S.C. 2000, c. 9.
On December 21, 2021, the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections accepted an undertaking from Campaign Life Coalition, pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the undertaking is set out in full below.
January 12, 2022
Pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act (the Act), and the authority delegated to him in accordance with section 509.23 of the Act, the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections (Deputy Commissioner) has accepted this undertaking from Campaign Life Coalition (CLC). The undertaking is aimed at ensuring compliance with the Act.
The relevant provisions of the Act are subsections 349.6(1) or 353(1), and 359(1) which, respectively, require a third party to:
- register with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) immediately after having incurred an aggregate amount of $500 in regulated expenses, including partisan activity expenses, in relation to a pre-election or election period; and
- provide a third-party return on its expenses to the CEO within four months after polling day, if the Act required the third party to register.
Section 508.1 of the Act makes it a violation to contravene any of these provisions.
Statements of Campaign Life Coalition
For the purpose of this undertaking, CLC acknowledges the following:
- It has duly authorized its vice-chair, Jeff Gunnarson, to sign this undertaking on its behalf.
- During the pre-election period (from June 30 to September 10, 2019) and the election period (from September 11 to October 21, 2019) for the 43rd federal general election, CLC prepared, published and distributed a voter’s guide to its members.
- CLC believed in good faith that this type of communication was not regulated under the Act, given that the definitions of “partisan advertising” and “election advertising” at subsection 2(1) of the Act clarify, among other things, that “the transmission of a document directly by a person or a group to their members” is not partisan or election advertising. CLC was therefore under the mistaken impression that the Act’s registration and reporting requirements had not been triggered.
- That said, although the voter’s guide was not partisan or election advertising, it nonetheless constituted a regulated “partisan activity”, as defined in section 349 of the Act, since it promoted certain potential and nominated candidates who had been identified as being opposed to abortion.
- In total, CLC incurred expenses of at least $45,382.43 for the design, production, publication, printing and mailing of the voter’s guide.
- Relying on its mistaken belief that the transmission of the voter’s guide to its members was not regulated, CLC did not register as a third party with the CEO immediately after having incurred partisan activity expenses of $500 or more during the pre-election or election period.
- Moreover, CLC did not file a third-party expense return in the prescribed form with the CEO within four months after polling day, despite the fact that it was required to do so since it had incurred more than $500 in regulated expenses.
Factors considered by the Deputy Commissioner
In accepting this undertaking, the Deputy Commissioner took into account the factors set out in paragraph 32 of the Compliance and Enforcement Policy of the Commissioner of Canada Elections. In particular, the Deputy Commissioner considered the fact that:
- CLC co-operated fully and in good faith with the investigation that was carried out by the Commissioner’s Office.
- The omissions were the result of a mistaken belief that amendments to the Act adopted shortly before the 43rd federal general election exempted the voter’s guide from third-party obligations.
- CLC’s offer to enter into this undertaking will enhance future compliance by other third parties by making these rules better known.
Terms and Conditions
CLC undertakes to comply with subsection 353(1) of the Act by submitting, to the CEO, a duly completed third-party registration application with respect to the 43rd federal general election, within 30 days of the acceptance of this undertaking by the Deputy Commissioner.
CLC undertakes to comply with subsection 359(1) of the Act by filing its final third-party expenses return with the CEO, within 30 days of having registered.
Pursuant to subsection 521.13(4) of the Act, the Deputy Commissioner has informed CLC that this undertaking will be published on the Commissioner’s website, as required by subsection 521.34(2) of the Act.
The Deputy Commissioner agrees that the fulfillment by CLC of its obligations as stated herein will constitute compliance with the undertaking.
In accordance with section 508.1 of the Act, failure to comply with any provision of this undertaking may result in the issuance of a Notice of Violation imposing an administrative monetary penalty against CLC and/or its directors, officers, agents or mandataries.
Signed on behalf of Campaign Life Coalition in the City of Hamilton, in the Province of Ontario, this 14th day of December, 2021.
Signed by the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the City of Ottawa, in the Province of Ontario, this 21st day of December, 2021.