Our organizations are an important bridge connecting governments to the people affected by government policy. Public policy impacts your organization and your communities. This election is especially important. There are major public policy issues that political parties and candidates are talking about that the nonprofit sector is working on, from affordable child care, affordable housing and anti-poverty initiatives, climate change, to diversity and inclusion and Truth and Reconciliation. Public policy impacts you: How your nonprofit goes about its work, what you can do, how you do it and why your work is needed. Advocacy is required to change public policy, and creating better public policy can make systemic changes. Advocacy empowers communities. Advocating helps you meet your mission.
Terrance Carter, Managing Partner, Carters explained who regulates these kinds of matters. Specifically, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulates charities through the Income Tax Act (ITA). He notes that The ITA was amended in December 2018 to remove the “substantially all” test that had restricted registered charities from devoting no more than 10% of their resources on permitted political activities. However, charities may not give “direct or indirect support of, or opposition to, any political party or candidate for public office”. Carter made a point that in addition to the Income Tax Act and the Canada Elections Act, charities and nonprofits should be mindful of other legislation, such as federal and provincial lobbying legislation.
Kyle M. Morrow, Associate at Fasken gave an overview on complying with Third-Party Election Laws
He outlined that regulated activities in this area include:
It is worth noting that the rules in this area are very specific and nonprofits and charities would be wise to get advice on a particular idea or action before proceeding to make sure they are well within the rules.
Bill Schaper, Director of Public Policy at Imagine Canada, next spoke on why the 2019 election is an important time to advocate. He noted that the things you can do during election season include:
Finally, Kate Cornell Co-Chair, Canadian Arts Coalition and Executive Director, Canadian Dance Assembly provided a case study on why and how her organizations advocate. She first talked about the 2018 Arts Day on the Hill which included:
Springboarding from that experience, the Canadian Arts Coalition developed a list of election asks for all parties. These include:
This panel was moderated by ONN (Ontario Nonprofit Network), partnering with the experts cited above, to help charities learn more about how to be effective this election. Further resources are below.
Elections Canada Political Entities Support Network: 1-800-486-6563
Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Imagine Canada Election Hub:
Imagine Canada and ONN Election Rules tool
Carters Professional Corporation, Lobbying and Elections Legislation in Canada
Canadian Arts Coalition Election Platform
The presenters were:
Terrance Carter, Managing Partner, Carters
Kyle M. Morrow, Associate at Fasken
Bill Schaper, Director of Public Policy, Imagine Canada
Kate Cornell, Co-Chair, Canadian Arts Coalition and Executive Director, Canadian Dance Assembly
Convened by ONN
This synopsis is by Hilborn Editor, Ann Rosenfield who was also eating lunch at the same time as she was typing. Any mistakes are a result of that unfortunate tomato on the keyboard incident and not reflective of the excellent presenters or convenor. To listen to the full webinar (which she highly recommends) please visit: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uy4uAn4Kgzo&feature=youtu.be