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 June 29, 2021, the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections accepted an undertaking from the Saskatchewan Party, pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the undertaking is set out in full below.
July 23, 2021
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 the Saskatchewan Party (the Party), a provincial registered political party in Saskatchewan. The undertaking is aimed at ensuring compliance with the Act.
The relevant provisions of the Act are (a) sections 349.5 and 352, (b) subsections 349.6(1) and 353(1), and (c) subsection 359(1), which require that a third party:
- include contact information and an authorization message in any partisan or election advertising message placed by it during the pre-election or election period;
- register with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) immediately after having incurred $500 in partisan or election advertising expenses in relation to partisan or election advertising messages transmitted during the pre-election or election period; and
- provide a third-party expense return with the CEO within four months after polling day, if the Act required the third party to be registered.
Section 508.1 of the Act makes it a violation to contravene any of these provisions.
Statements of the Saskatchewan Party
For the purpose of this undertaking, the Party acknowledges the following:
- The Party, a registered political party in the province of Saskatchewan, has duly authorized its Executive Director, Patrick Bundrock, 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, it purchased and published a total of twelve Facebook advertisements.
- The advertisements met the definition of either partisan advertising or election adverting, as defined in subsections 2(1) and (7) of the Act, as they contained advertising messages that opposed registered parties (the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party) or the leaders of these registered parties, including by naming them.
- The advertisements, which were published on the Party’s Facebook page and boosted between July 5, 2019, and September 30, 2019, did not include the authorization message and did not provide the Party’s telephone number and civic or internet address, as required by sections 349.5 and 352 of the Act.
- The Party did not register as a third party with the CEO immediately after having incurred $500 in partisan advertising expenses during the pre-election period or after having incurred $500 in election advertising expenses during the election period, as required by the Act.
- The $500 threshold for registration as a third party, provided for in subsections 349.6(1) and 353(1) of the Act, was exceeded for both the pre-election and election periods. The total costs of the advertisements were $2,067.14 (costs of $1,459.32 were incurred for advertisements placed during the pre-election period, and costs of $607.82 were incurred for the advertisements placed during the election period).
- Since the Party was required to register with the CEO, the Party was also subsequently required, by subsection 359(1) of the Act, to submit a third-party expense return to the CEO within four months of polling day for the 43rd federal general election. It failed to do so.
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 facts that:
- The overall costs incurred by the Party during the pre-election and election periods were relatively low (just above $2,000), and the $500 threshold after which registration is required was only slightly exceeded in the case of the election period;
- No interim return was required, since the overall costs of the advertisements were under $10,000;
- The Party, through its Executive Director, cooperated with the review of the matter that was carried out by the Commissioner’s Office; and
- The omissions were the result of a mistaken belief that recent amendments to the Act exempt provincial parties from all third-party obligations, whereas it only does so with respect to “partisan activities”.
Terms and Conditions
The Party undertakes to comply with subsections 349.6(1) and 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.
The Party undertakes to comply with subsection 359(1) of the Act by filing its final third-party expense return with the CEO, within 30 days of having registered.
Pursuant to subsection 521.13(4) of the Act, the Deputy Commissioner has informed the Party 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 the Party 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 Deputy Commissioner issuing a Notice of Violation imposing an administrative monetary penalty against the Party and/or its directors, officers, agents or mandataries.
Signed on behalf of the Saskatchewan Party in the City of Regina, in the province of Saskatchewan this 28th day of June, 2021.
Signed by the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the City of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, this 29th day of June, 2021.