Elections Canada in late August 2019 updated their guide Political Financing Handbook for Third Parties Financial Agents and Auditors, which updates the last version of the guide which was published in June 2019.
One of the changes was in their chart of regulated activities - they updated their description of Election Surveys to add the following that is in bold:
Surveys about voting, or about an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated, that a third party conducts or causes to be conducted during the pre-election period* or the election period.** The survey results are used in deciding whether or not to organize and carry out regulated activities, or in the organization and carrying out of regulated activities.
Previously it had indicated that surveys would need to be about "voting" - which is far more narrow than their current description. This impacts non-profits and charities in that if they are doing a survey which does not touch upon voting intentions but asks about an issue such as immigration, climate change, taxation etc then it could be an election survey and if they are using that survey to carry out regulated activities such as election advertising then if they meet certain cost thresholds they would need to register.
In case it is helpful here is a Chart on Type of Regulated Activity for non-profits and charities and the Canada Elections Act that I have taken for the Elections Canada guide and modified for regular non-profits and registered charities.
Canadian non-profits and registered charities can be involved in the pre-election and election period, however, there are rules that they need to follow in certain circumstances.
Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?
Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.