Application of the Lobbying Act to Political Parties

Purpose of Advisory Opinion

This advisory opinion is issued by the Commissioner under the authority of subsection 10(1) of the Lobbying Act (hereafter "the Act"). Its purpose is to state the Commissioner's view on the application of the Act to federal political parties.

Legislation

Section 2 of the Lobbying Act contains a definition of “organization”, which includes:

  1. a business, trade, industry, professional or voluntary organization,
  2. a trade union or labour organization,
  3. a chamber of commerce or board of trade,
  4. a partnership, trust, association, charitable society or interest group,
  5. a government other than the Government of Canada, and
  6. a corporation without share capital incorporated to pursue, without financial gain to its members, objects of a national, provincial, patriotic, religious, philanthropic, charitable, scientific, artistic, social, professional or sporting character or other similar objects.

Commissioner's Opinion

Political parties, as defined in the Canada Elections Act, are organizations “one of whose fundamental purposes is to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election.” They are governed by the Canada Elections Act, and the Commissioner is of the belief that communications between employees of political parties and their party’s caucus members are not subject to the Lobbying Act. The Commissioner takes the view that the definition of “organization” is not meant to include political parties. Therefore, federally registered political parties are not required to register under the Lobbying Act.

For further information, please contact:

Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada
255 Albert Street
10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5
Telephone: 613-957-2760
Facsimile:  613-957-3078
Email: QuestionsLobbying@ocl-cal.gc.ca

Karen E. Shepherd
Commissioner of Lobbying
March 2014