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?
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.