Canada: Important Changes For Third Parties In The Canada Elections Act

Recent changes to the Canada Elections Act (Act) will have wide-ranging and important implications for businesses, industry associations, advocacy groups, community groups, unions and other persons who communicate with political parties or campaigns before and during federal elections.

The newly introduced restrictions, among other things, include extensive communication, expenditure and collusion prohibitions, which will apply as early as June 30 of this year, well in advance of the elections scheduled for the fall. These changes will significantly modify the ways in which parties and stakeholders may interact in the period leading up to Canada's October 21, 2019 general election.

On December 13, 2018, Bill C-76: An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (Bill C-76) received royal assent. Bill C-76 makes an array of changes to the Act, including the introduction of significant communication and collusion prohibitions during a defined period before the election period of a general election (pre-election period) and the election period. These communication and collusion provisions will come into force on June 13, 2019.


Prior to Bill C-76, the Act restricted collusion in the narrow and illicit sense, i.e., coordinated activity between a campaign and a third party for the purposes of intentionally circumventing maximum campaign expenditure limits. In past practice, rules were relatively flexible with respect to non-expenditure coordination. Rules relating to coordination between campaigns and third parties in respect of volunteers, message or fundraising were fairly flexible. In contrast, coordinating on things like advertising or other campaign expenditures was more tightly controlled.

Bill C-76 considerably widens the breadth of these prohibitions. In particular, the new rules categorize as problematic even the "sharing of information" that may influence strategy, partisan activities, partisan advertising, election advertising or election surveys of third parties.

Accordingly, previously acceptable activities – such as sharing talking points with a stakeholder, industry association, worship community or union who will distribute them to their members, identifying electoral districts in need of volunteers or contributions, or sharing polling – could attract regulatory scrutiny. Even activities clearly designed to persuade and not to coordinate (such as submitting or responding to a policy survey prepared by a stakeholder), could in certain circumstances encounter regulatory friction.


Historically, third parties were free to conduct their affairs relatively unfettered prior to the dropping of an electoral writ, which typically occurred 35 days before the date of the election.

As a result of Bill C-76, restrictions on communications by or with third parties now begin well before the writ. In the 2019 federal election cycle, restrictions on communications by or with third parties will kick in on June 30, with pre-election limits running to mid-September (unless the writ is dropped early), at which point the election period regime will take over. The pre-election regime will regulate not just registered parties, associations and candidates but also potential candidates and persons associated with potential candidates.

Third parties are limited to spending an aggregate amount of C$700,000 in partisan advertising expenses, election survey expenses and partisan activity expenses during the pre-election period. Third parties may not circumvent or attempt to circumvent this maximum pre-election expense amount, including by splitting themselves into two or more third parties for the purpose of circumventing the maximum amount or acting in collusion with another third party so that their combined pre-election amount exceeds the maximum amount. This restriction will be particularly important for industry associations or similar groups with constituent members who may wish to communicate during an election both collectively and individually.

Third parties are also now subject to registration requirements in the pre-election period. A third party must register immediately after having incurred C$500 in aggregated partisan advertising expenses, election survey expenses and partisan activity expenses during the pre-election period.

Expenditure caps will also apply to registered parties, and Bill C-76 limits the maximum partisan advertising expenses for a registered party to C$1.4-million in the pre-election period.


During the election period (which begins either 37 days before Election Day, or the day the writ is dropped, if earlier), third parties cannot exceed an aggregate amount of more than C$350,000 in election advertising expenses, election survey expenses and partisan activity expenses. Here again, third parties may not circumvent or attempt to circumvent the maximums, including by splitting into two or more third parties.

As in the pre-election period requirements, third parties are subject to registration requirements in the election period. A third party must register immediately after having incurred C$500 in aggregated election advertising expenses, election survey expenses and partisan activity expenses during the election period. If a third party has already registered during a pre-election period that ends the day before the issue of the writ of election, the third party is deemed to be registered for the purposes of the election period.


The Act imposes steep fines, significant reputational consequences and other serious penalties up to and including imprisonment, for those violating the third-party anti-collusion restrictions on sharing information.

Businesses, industry associations, professional associations, unions, and other stakeholders who are considering engaging with federal political parties, associations or candidates on or after June 2019 (whether by advertising, polling, or even for the simple distribution of policy surveys, or connecting of volunteers or donors to campaigns) should carefully consider and understand the new rules, and seek counsel before finalizing their plans for the coming months.

For permission to reprint articles, please contact the Blakes Marketing Department.

© 2018 Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
3 Oct 2019, Seminar, Toronto, Canada

The materials on the Blakes Business Class website are provided for informational purposes only. Accessing this information does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

30 Oct 2019, Other, Toronto, Canada

The materials on the Blakes Business Class website are provided for informational purposes only. Accessing this information does not create a lawyer-client relationship.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions