What political activities are “prohibited activities” for Canadian registered charities?

January 15, 2012 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: What's New from the Charities Directorate of CRA

Canadian charities are not allowed to participate in either illegal or partisan political activities.

Here is an excerpt from CRA Guidance on Political Activities - CPS-022

“6.1 What are prohibited activities?
A charity may not take part in an illegal activity or a partisan political activity. A partisan political activity is one that involves direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office.
When a political party or candidate for public office supports a policy that is also supported by a charity, the charity is not prevented from promoting this policy. However, a charity in this situation must not directly or indirectly support the political party or candidate for public office. This means that a charity may make the public aware of its position on an issue provided:
1. it does not explicitly connect its views to any political party or candidate for public office;
2. the issue is connected to its purposes;
3. its views are based on a well-reasoned position;
4. public awareness campaigns do not become the charity’s primary activity.

In addition, a charity in this situation is also subject to the restrictions this guidance places on non-partisan political activity, public awareness campaigns and communications with an elected representative or public official.

Finally, a charity may provide information to its supporters or the public on how all the Members of Parliament or the legislature of a province, territory or municipal council voted on an issue connected with the charity’s purpose. However, a charity must not single out the voting pattern on an issue of any one elected representative or political party.”

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.


Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?


Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

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.

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