How Canada's new election law has silenced political debate - 2019-12-12
In June 2019, the federal government amended Canada's Elections Act. New rules require third parties, including non-profit groups, to register with Elections Canada if they spend more than $500 on "political advertising." That includes any spending to promote positions on public policy issues on which political parties have taken a stand, or to support or oppose particular candidates and parties.
The new Elections Act also sets specific spending limits on third-party election advertising.
These changes to the Elections Act are important measures to prevent the type of unlimited spending by political action committees (PACs) that followed the Citizens United decision by the United States Supreme Court in 2010. The court ruled that spending limits on third-party election advertising was an unconstitutional restriction of free speech.
Since 2010, what are known as super-PACs have subsequently become major players in American elections, enabling wealthy individuals to exert enormous political influence. Indeed, wealthy donors spent more than US$1.4 billion during the 2016 presidential election campaign.