CRA definitions and political activities as described in CPS-022
Posted under News | Canadian Charity Law
Here is some of the definitions and terminology used by CRA in discussing political activities by Canadian charities.
Here is an excerpt from CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022
“Appendix I — Definitions
Advocacy — Advocacy is demonstrated support for a cause or particular point of view. Advocacy is not necessarily a political activity, but it sometimes can be. Refer to the definition of political activities in section 6.2 above.
Ancillary and incidental — In this policy statement, ancillary is defined as connected and incidental is defined as subordinate to make these concepts more easily understandable.
Call to political action — A call to political action is an appeal to the members of the charity or to the general public, or to segments of the general public, to contact an elected representative or public official to urge them to retain, oppose or change the law, policy or decision of any level of government.
Connected activity — An activity that relates to and supports a charity’s purpose(s) and represents a reasonable way to achieve them.
Disbursement quota — The disbursement quota is the minimum amount a registered charity has to spend on charitable activities to keep its registered status, including gifts to qualified donees. In general, it is an expenditure test based on tax-receipted revenue of the previous fiscal period. In the case of foundations, certain investment assets and gifts from other registered charities must also be considered. The purpose of the disbursement quota is to ensure that registered charities actively use their tax-assisted donations to help others according to their charitable purposes.
Elected representative — A person who is a member of the Parliament of Canada or the legislature of a province, territory, or municipal council. It also includes an elected member of a legislative body, a school board, or a ruling member of government in a foreign country.
Factual information — Information used or produced by a registered charity that is based on facts resulting from the charity’s direct experience or research from a reputable source. Research should be methodical and objective.
Governing document — Every registered charity (other than an internal division of an existing registered charity) must be legally established by a governing document. These are the documents that formerly establish an organization and govern its operations. Some examples of governing documents are letters patent, certificate of incorporation, memorandum or articles of association, a constitution, trust documents, and by-laws.
Political activities — Our administrative interpretation of this term is set out in section 6.2 above.
Political purpose — The courts consider the following to be political purposes:
• to support a political party or candidate for public office; or
• to seek to retain, oppose, or change the law or policy or decisions of any level of government in Canada or a foreign country.
This definition is taken from McGovern v. Attorney General, (1980),  3 All ER 493 at 509 para. a (C.A), an English law case recognized by Canadian Courts as good law, (for example, refer to Positive Action Against Pornography v. M.N.R.,  2 F.C. 340 (C.A.)). In McGovern, Slade J. categorized political purposes as:
[T]rusts of which a direct and principal purpose is either
(i) to further the interests of a particular political party; or
(ii) to procure changes in the laws of this country; or
(iii) to procure changes in the laws of a foreign country; or
(iv) to procure a reversal of government policy or of particular decisions of governmental authorities in this country; or
(v) to procure a reversal of government policy or of particular decisions of governmental authorities in a foreign country.
Slade J. did not intend this list to be exhaustive, and in Re Koeppler’s Will Trusts, (1983),  2 All ER 111 at 124 paras. h-j (Ch.), Gibson J. added “trusts to oppose a particular change in the law or a change in a particular law.”
Public — The people of a nation or community, in whole or in part.
Public official — Any person employed by any level of government in any country that is responsible for the laws, policies, or decisions made in a given field.
Qualified Donee — Qualified donees are organizations that can, under the Act, issue official tax receipts for gifts that individuals or corporations make to them.
• registered charities;
• registered Canadian amateur athletic associations;
• registered national arts service organizations;
• housing corporations in Canada constituted exclusively to provide low-cost housing for the aged;
• the United Nations and its agencies;
• universities outside Canada with a student body that ordinarily includes students from Canada (these universities are listed in Schedule VIII of the Income Tax Regulations);
• charitable organizations outside Canada to which Her Majesty in right of Canada (the federal government or its agents) has made a gift during the registered charity’s fiscal period, or in the 12 months immediately before the period;
• municipalities in Canada; and
• Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province or territory (the federal government, a provincial or territorial government, or their agents).
Subordinate activities — Activities that are subservient to a charity’s dominant charitable purpose or are a minor focus of the charity. To determine whether this requirement is met, the activity should be considered in relation to the charity’s entire program of activities. If the activity becomes the main way of furthering the charity’s purposes, it may no longer be a minor focus of the charity, but an end or unstated purpose in itself.
Well-reasoned position — A position based on factual information that is methodically, objectively, fully, and fairly analyzed. In addition, a well-reasoned position should present/address serious arguments and relevant facts to the contrary.”
Here is a link to CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022 http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/plcy/cps/cps-022-eng.html
As well here is a copy in PDF of the CRA Policy Statement on Political Activities by Canadian Charities CPS-022 - September 2, 2003 so that you can download it easily to your computer.
CRA also has a general glossary for charities http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/chrts/glssry-eng.html