Workshop A – Advocacy in Canada – Not Just for Lawyers

Advocacy in Canada: Not Just
For Lawyers
Understand how the system works.
Discover who is listening.
Move beyond the ask.
Examine what success means.
Karen Lynch
Canadian Parents For French
October 17,2014
Advocacy or Lobbying?
1. I wrote a letter to my Member of Parliament.
2. Our volunteers designed a protest campaign.
3. The Board hired Murdoch & Co. to write a
proposal to give to the Prime Minister.
4. Our $100,000 budget had a $20K line for a
government relations expert.
Lobbyist Act (Canada)
The Lobbying Act four key principles:
• Free and open access to government is an important matter
of public interest.
• Lobbying public office holders is a legitimate activity.
• It is desirable that public office holders and the general public
be able to know who is engaged in lobbying activities.
• The system of registration of paid lobbyists should not impede
free and open access to government.
The Act applies to individuals who are paid to lobby. People who
lobby on a voluntary basis are not required to register.
Cheat sheet Ten things You should Know about Lobbying in Canada:
Who is a lobbyist?
• A “consultant lobbyist” is a person who, for payment,
undertakes to lobby on behalf of a client, and includes an
individual engaged by a consultant lobbyist to lobby in
respect of an undertaking.
• “In House lobbyist” means an employee, officer or director
of an organization who receives a payment for the
performance of his or her functions, or a sole proprietor, or
a partner in a partnership,
…Who is a Lobbyist?
Federal Lobbyist Registry
• Not all lobbying activity requires registration.
• Corporations and not-for-profit organizations may
conduct some lobbying activities and not be required
to file a registration if the cumulative lobbying
activities of all employees do not constitute 20% or
more of one person's duties over a period of a month.
• Volunteers are not required to register as they are not
paid to communicate with public office holders.
• Meet and communicate with politicians and officials, even if intent
is to change law or policy
• Representations:
– related to issues connected to charity’s purposes;
– that are well-reasoned;
– that do not contain information that the charity
knows, or ought to know is false, inaccurate, or misleading;
– that have no call to action.
All such activity is considered “charitable”.
Federal Scene
• Federal Budget 2012 profiled significant concerns about political
activities, advocacy and what charities are permitted to do. Why?
• CRA’s “advocacy rules” Policy Statement CPS-022:
Courts have determined political purposes to be those that seek to:
• further the interests of a particular political party; or support a political
party or candidate for public office; or
• retain, oppose, or change the law, policy, or decision of any level of
government in Canada or a foreign country.
Federal Scene
Can you communicate with an elected
representative or public official?
Infamous 10% Rule
• When a charity takes part in political activities, the Act
requires that substantially all of its resources must be
devoted to charitable activities. The term resources is
not defined in the Act, but it is considered to include
the total of a charity's financial assets, as well as
everything the charity can use to further its purposes,
such as its staff, volunteers, directors, and its premises
and equipment.
• consider substantially all to mean 90% or more
How to avoid trouble…
“One year and $5 million later, Harper’s charity crackdown nets just
one bad egg”
An $8-million pot of money included in 2012 federal budget to crack
down on charities suspected of engaging in “excessive” political
activities has so far resulted in only one having its charitable status
revoked, out of nearly 900 that were audited.
Under the Canadian tax code, registered charities are permitted to
devote a maximum of 10 per cent of their total resources to nonpartisan political activities, defined as any type of call to political
The agency has already spent $5 million to educate charities and
increase transparency and compliance around those limitations, and
expects to spend the remaining $3 million in the coming year.
March 13, 2013 Metro News
Tedious Knowledge
So You Want to Be Heard?
House of Commons
Engagement with Canadians
What works and what doesn’t
What works and what doesn’t
What works and what doesn’t…
What works and what doesn’t…
Political Activities
• CPS – 022 “for the purposes of this policy, a
charity’s activities can be divided into 3 types:
• Prohibited activities
• Political activities
• Charitable activities
What works and what doesn’t…
1) Prohibited Activity
• partisan political activity
• no financial (or in-kind) contributions to parties
or candidates
• Illegal activity
2) Permitted – But Limited – Political
• OK if “non-partisan” and “subordinate to charity’s
• a call to action (“vote a certain way” or “write
your MP”)
• taking out a newspaper ad / starting an email
campaign aimed at legislators
• organizing a march on Parliament Hill
What works and what doesn’t…
3) Charitable Activity
• meet and communicate with politicians and
officials, even if intent is to change law or
• Representations related to issue connected
to charity’s purposes; that are well-reasoned,
do not contain information that the charity
knows is false, inaccurate, or misleading; that
have no call to action
• All such activity is charitable
What works and what doesn’t…
Lobby days
High Value Networking
What works and what doesn’t…
Disability tax credit
Arthritis Society
Special Olympics
Michener Centre
Common Drug Review
Volunteer Police Information Check program
Canadian Survey of Giving Volunteering and
Case for Canadian Parents for French
Public Policy Development or
Public Policy Advocacy?
Citizen Engagement. Identify:
• Who is supportive?
• Who is effected?
• Who else is focusing on the issue?
• Who is opposed?
Research. Formulating:
• Data collection
• Literature review
• History of issue
• Ask
CPF Master Advocacy Plan
Know the system for decision making
Know your issue
Learn the rules
Create your case
Determine allies
Develop the network
Determine the ask
Communicate to decision makers
Prepare to be persistent (nicely!)
Participate as a partner
Advocacy in Canada –
Not Just for Lawyers.
Get Started.
Karen Lynch
[email protected]

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