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CEO Statement Regarding Third Party Requirements on Issue Advertising

Recent media coverage of third party obligations under the Canada Elections Act suggests there is some confusion about what the law does and doesn't limit. "The Act does not prevent individuals or groups from talking about issues or publishing information," said Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault. However, if they spend $500 or more on certain activities, they will need to register with Elections Canada as third parties and be subject to a spending limit of $511,700 during the election period.

The only instance in which the Act covers the promotion of an issue, without mentioning a candidate or party, is when someone spends money on issue advertising during the election period. Also, in such cases, the issue must be clearly associated with a candidate or party. When someone spends money on issue advertising, they have to register with Elections Canada and provide reports. This leads to increased transparency.

This regime is not new. Issue advertising during the election period has been subject to the Canada Elections Act for nearly 20 years. "The Act doesn't speak to the substance of potential third party issue advertising, nor does it make a distinction between facts and opinion," Perrault said. "It is not Elections Canada's role to make that distinction, no matter how obvious it may appear."

The rules in the Act on issue advertising that is clearly associated with a party do not cover other advocacy activities and communications, such as sending emails or text messages, having a website, canvassing door-to-door or giving media interviews.

"The third party regime can be complex, and we encourage anyone with questions to contact us," Perrault said.

Stéphane Perrault, Chief Electoral Officer of Canada