Review of Charities' Political Activities

Fri, 12/09/2016 - 9:00am
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Source: Ontario Non-Profit Network (ONN)


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Join Imagine Canada’s call to action: Tell the Federal Government to amend the Income Tax Act to focus on charitable purposes, not activities


Deadline extended to Friday, December 9: Charities and nonprofits play a critical role in Canadian society to address issues that face communities across the country. Child welfare services, the integration of people with disabilities into community life, hospices for end-of-life care and reductions in acid rain are some of the many services, laws and regulations provided by government today that were shaped by local charitable organizations with their perspectives and on-the-ground knowledge.


This role requires the charitable sector to engage in “political activities” to help shape the policy and laws that have an impact on their work with the people and the communities they serve.


The Government of Canada has committed to reviewing the regulation of political activity by charities. It is conducting a public consultation until December 9 and ONN wants the charitable sector to add its voice.


Imagine Canada has developed a position on political activities that deserves sector-wide support. We encourage you to read and share this well-articulated brief.


ONN supports Imagine’s recommendation that:


The Income Tax Act be amended to restore an emphasis on charitable purposes, rather than regulating how charities achieve those purposes.

The focus on activities, including political activities, in the Income Tax Act should be removed. The prohibition on partisan political activity would remain.


We echo all of Imagine Canada’s recommendations about clarifying definitions and scope regarding partisan political activity so that we can be more confident in engaging in our work.  

Potential for additional impact on other sector-related policy issues


Changing the Income Tax Act to focus on purposes, rather than activities, could have spillover effects beyond charities’ public policy work. For example, it would likely mean a rethinking of the regulations that govern charities’ business activities. We are committed to working with the CRA to ensure that such changes benefit the sector’s work.


Please take action before December 9, 2016.


Let’s make sure the government hears from charities across the sector, as we embrace the opportunity to reset the definition of charities’ work in public policy and renew our relationship with the federal government.


1. Send your comments by December 9.  

Send an email to with a copy to your MP as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, December 9, 2016. Here are the consultation questions for feedback and you can provide additional comments.


2. Ask to appear at the in-person consultation sessions (to be held in major cities across Canada between November 29 and December 8).


Send an email to Please keep in mind that priority will be given to organizations that have practical experience in political activities. The government is looking for a mix of charities by size and fields of work.


What should you say?


Here’s an easy-to-tailor template to personalize, or create your own and send your comments. You can include the link to Imagine’s submission in your email.


Don’t forget to send us a copy at so we can gather sector perspectives!




What's the sector saying? Read on in Sector Voices, including how individuals can support the call.


Read ONN's submission.

Sample tweets and posts

Act now to reform how “political activities” by charities are regulated: #CRAcharities #weadvocate #cdnpoli



Join the national call to action by December 9 to clarify how the CRA regulates charities' political activities. Read Imagine Canada's comprehensive brief for reform and more sector voices calling for change: