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Parishes and political activities

The current provincial election might prompt you to ask, “What political activities can my church get involved in?” Before you take any action, it’s important to remember that, as a registered charity, your church must adhere to certain laws that deal with charities and political activities; otherwise, you could jeopardize your charitable status.

One of the most important things to remember is that charities cannot take part in partisan political activities, which means your church cannot directly support or oppose a specific candidate or political party for public office. It is important that faith groups use neutral language in their communications. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has clarified that, as long as a charity restricts its comments to the political party’s policy, and does not explicitly connect its views to the political party, it would likely be carrying out a non-partisan political activity.

Some of the examples CRA provides of prohibited political activities include:

  • inviting a specific candidate for public office to speak at a charity event without giving the same courtesy to the other candidates, or inviting candidates to speak at different meetings that are not of equal opportunity in terms of prestige or audience;
  • treating an election campaign team to a meal;
  • publicly endorsing a candidate;
  • giving money or non-cash gifts to a candidate or political party, either directly or indirectly;
  • singling out elected officials or a party for its voting record on any particular vote or its voting pattern over a series of votes.

Some of the examples CRA provides of permitted political activities include:

  • buying a newspaper advertisement to pressure the government;
  • organizing a public march and rally to Parliament Hill;
  • organizing a conference to support your church’s opinion;
  • hiring a communications specialist to arrange a media campaign;
  • using a mail campaign to urge supporters to contact the government.

Curious to learn more? The CRA has produced a helpful video series on charities and their participation in political activities. It can be viewed at