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 6, 2021, the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections accepted an undertaking from Canadians for Clean Prosperity, pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the undertaking is set out in full below.
December 15, 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 Canadians for Clean Prosperity. The undertaking is aimed at ensuring compliance with the Act.
The relevant provisions of the Act are (a) section 352, (b) subsections 349.6(1) and 353(1), and (c) subsection 359(1), which respectively, require that a third party:
- include contact information and an authorization message in any election advertising message placed by it during the election period;
- register with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) immediately after having incurred the aggregate of $500 in partisan activity expenses, partisan advertising expenses, or election advertising expenses during the pre-election or election period; and,
- provide the CEO with a third-party expenses return 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 Canadians for Clean Prosperity
For the purpose of this undertaking, Canadians for Clean Prosperity acknowledges the following:
- Canadians for Clean Prosperity has duly authorized its Executive Director, Michael Bernstein, to sign this undertaking on its behalf.
- During the pre-election period for the 43rd federal general election, Canadians for Clean Prosperity published a report titled “An Emission and Cost Assessment of “A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment” (the Report). A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment was the title of the Conservative Party of Canada’s electoral environmental platform.
- The Report provided an unfavourable assessment of that party's electoral environmental platform and hence met the definition of partisan activity under section 349 of the Act.
- Moreover, during the pre-election and election periods for the 43rd federal general election, Canadians for Clean Prosperity published on its website a total of four press releases that met the definition of partisan activity. It also published social media posts on its Facebook page and Twitter account, or on the social media accounts of Fair Path Forward, a campaign that was created and managed by Canadians for Clean Prosperity.
- The announcements and posts met the definition of either partisan activity, as defined in section 349 of the Act, or partisan or election advertising, as defined in subsections 2(1) and (7) of the Act. They contained messages that opposed the Conservative Party of Canada and the Bloc Québécois, or the leaders of these registered parties, including by naming them.
- The election advertising messages that were transmitted on Facebook between October 9 and October 10, 2019, did not contain an authorization message and did not provide the third party’s telephone number and civic or internet address, as required by section 352 of the Act.
- Furthermore, Canadians for Clean Prosperity incurred a total of $4,932.36 in expenses during the pre-election period, and a total of $739.70 in expenses during the election period.
- Since the regulated expenses amounted to more than $500 during each of the pre-election and election periods, Canadians for Clean Prosperity was required to register as a third party by virtue of subsections 349.6(1) and 353(1) of the Act. In accordance with subsection 359(1) of the Act, it was also required to submit a third-party expenses return to the CEO within four months after polling day of the 43rd federal general election.
- Canadians for Clean Prosperity did not register as a third party with the CEO immediately after having incurred $500 in regulated expenses during the pre-election period or during the election period. Nor did it submit the required report.
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:
- The overall costs incurred by Canadians for Clean Prosperity during the pre-election and election periods were relatively low. In the case of the election period, the amount only slightly exceeded the $500 threshold after which registration is required;
- No interim return was required, since the overall costs incurred were under $10,000;
- Canadians for Clean Prosperity, through its Executive Director, cooperated with the review of the matter by the Commissioner’s Office. It voluntarily provided financial information demonstrating that it incurred regulated expenses exceeding the $500 registration threshold;
- The failure to register and to file the third-party final expenses return were the result of a mistaken belief that the activities carried out by Canadians for Clean Prosperity were not regulated by the Act. Most of these activities took place during the pre-election period, not long after amendments to the third-party rules came into force; and
- Canadians for Clean Prosperity mistakenly believed that the paid Facebook posts published on October 9 and October 10, 2019, did not constitute election advertising.
Terms and Conditions
Canadians for Clean Prosperity 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.
Canadians for Clean Prosperity 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 Canadians for Clean Prosperity 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 Canadians for Clean Prosperity 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 Canadians for Clean Prosperity and/or its directors, officers, agents or mandataries.
Signed on behalf of Canadians for Clean Prosperity in the City of Toronto, in the province of Ontario, this 2nd day of December, 2021.
Signed by the Deputy Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the City of Ottawa, in the province of Ontario, this 6th day of December, 2021.