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 May 29, 2020, the Commissioner of Canada Elections accepted an undertaking from the United Conservative Party of Alberta, pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act. The text of the undertaking is set out in full below.
June 12, 2020
Pursuant to section 521.13 of the Canada Elections Act (the Act), the Commissioner of Canada Elections (the Commissioner) has accepted this undertaking from the United Conservative Party of Alberta (the UCPA), a provincial registered political party in Alberta. The undertaking is aimed at ensuring compliance with the Act.
The relevant provisions of the Act are section 352 and subsection 353(1) which, respectively, require that a third party identify itself and provide contact information in or on its election advertising messages, and that it immediately register with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) after having incurred $500 in election advertising expenses. Section 508.1 makes it a violation to contravene either of these provisions.
Statements of the UCPA
For the purpose of this undertaking, the UCPA acknowledges the following:
- The UCPA is a registered political party in the province of Alberta and, as such, is subject to a provincial regulatory regime that includes limits and prohibitions on contributions and reporting requirements with respect to contributions and expenses.
- It has duly authorized its President, Ryan Becker, to sign this undertaking on its behalf.
- During the 43rd federal general election, it distributed a free bumper sticker with a message opposing the leader of a registered federal party to individuals who requested one via a website that had been created for the purpose of identifying UCPA supporters and potential contributors.
- The individuals responsible for the UCPA campaign believed in good faith that the distribution of these bumper stickers constituted a partisan activity that was exempt from the application of the Act’s third party regime, since the definition of “partisan activity” at section 349 of the Act excludes activities carried out by a political party registered under a provincial statute.
- The Commissioner asserts that the distribution of these bumper stickers constituted “election advertising” rather than a partisan activity for the purposes of the Act, since they contained an advertising message that opposed the leader of a federal registered party. Provincial political parties are not excluded from the application of the Act’s third party election advertising rules.
- The UCPA incurred expenses of more than $500 for the bumper sticker campaign, including for website design and promotion, for production of the bumper stickers and their mail outs.
- The UCPA did not register as a third party with the CEO immediately after having incurred election advertising expenses of more than $500 during the 43rd federal general election.
- The bumper stickers did not include an authorization message, the telephone number and civic or internet address of the third party.
Factors considered by the Commissioner
In accepting this undertaking, the 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 Commissioner considered the fact that the UCPA co-operated fully and in good faith with investigators, and that the act in question was the result of a belief that the distribution of the bumper stickers constituted a partisan activity rather than election advertising.
Terms and conditions
The UCPA undertakes to comply with subsection 353(1) of the Act by submitting to the CEO, within 30 days of the acceptance of this undertaking by the Commissioner, a duly completed third party registration application with respect to the 43rd federal general election.
The UCPA 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 Commissioner has informed the UCPA that this undertaking will be published, as required by subsection 521.34(2) of the Act, on the Commissioner’s website.
The Commissioner agrees that the fulfillment by the UCPA 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 Commissioner issuing a Notice of Violation imposing an administrative monetary penalty against the UCPA and/or its directors, officers, agents or mandataries.
Signed on behalf of the UCPA in the City of La Crete, in the province of Alberta this 22nd day of May 2020.
President of the UCPA
Signed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections, in the City of Gatineau, in the province of Quebec, this 29th day of May 2020.
Yves Côté, QC
Commissioner of Canada Elections