An investigation has found an environmental group guilty of breaching the Canada Elections Act for its advertisements during the 2019 federal election.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Canadians for Clean Prosperity of Toronto was found to have broken the law but did not receive a fine for their violation.
“(Advertisements) contained messages that opposed the Conservative Party and the Bloc Québécois or the leaders of these registered parties, including by naming them,” wrote Commissioner of Elections Yves Côté in his decision.
The Canada Elections Act requires any advocacy group that spends over $500 on election expenses to register as a third party.
“A third party is generally a person or group that wants to participate in or influence elections. They do not seek to be elected themselves but may support certain political parties or candidates,” notes the Elections Canada website.
During the 2019 election, the organization released a series of advertisements and sponsored social media posts that targeted former Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and others.
“The failure to register and to file the third party final expenses were the result of a mistaken belief the activities carried out by Canadians for Clean Prosperity were not regulated by the Act,” explained Côté.
The group’s executive director Michael Bernstein denied that the group had broken the law, claiming that their activities were outside the election period.
“We are not doing any advertising during the election period so the provision does not apply to us,” said Bernstein.
“The issues-based messaging and advocacy … is not regulated activity. Organizations can advocate for an issue they care about. They just can’t support or oppose a political party.”
The 2019 election campaign began on Sept. 11 of that year. A week after the election began, the organization put up a website titled Debunking The Myths, which targeted the carbon tax policies of the Conservatives.