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MRIA Statement Regarding Bill C-76

05/22/2019 8:00 AM | Daniel Jackson (Administrator)


Bill C-76 came into effect on June 13, 2019, and election surveys conducted during the pre-election period, including the election period, are now classified as regulated activities by Elections Canada. It does not matter who commissioned the survey; it is now considered a regulated activity. The survey may be initiated by the following:

I.            The firm.
II.           A third party.
III.        A political party/parties.
IV.        A candidate.

MRIA members who conduct election surveys or any related surveys that may be issued during the pre-election period and the election period must ensure that they are following the law.

Best practices to comply with the new laws:

I.                  Follow the rules when releasing surveys in the pre-election period and the election period.
II.                 Declare if a survey is requested by a specific party/parties when it is released to the public.
III.              Do not give preferential treatment to political parties or candidates when releasing survey results. There is a new provision against collusion in Bill C-76. However, there is no definition of collusion in this act. Members must ensure that all contact and dissemination of information is open and transparent in order to avoid all inadvertent incidents of perceived collusion. Members who conduct their own independent surveys must ensure that information is released to the public, to all parties, and to candidates at the same time.
IV.             Post the survey results on an accessible website and have it available during the election and for two years afterward.
V.                Release the survey results to the public at large.
VI.              Omnibus surveys may inadvertently be considered collusive if parties with the same issues are in the same omnibus surveys. The survey results are available to all members, and this may allow them to extend their budgets on an issue and exceed the spending limits set for the candidate or party. The entity conducting the survey may not have the intention to facilitate collusion. However, during the pre-election period and the election period, members must know all their clients. They must also know if there are any relationships between the clients that may be construed as inadvertent collusion because the member conducting the survey is unaware of the relationship between the members participating in the omnibus account. It may be advisable to avoid omnibus surveys covering political issues and content during the election period and to consider the same during the election period.
 VII.             The government does not have a definition or has a broad definition of collusion.
 VIII.            Blackout Period - Elections Act - Blackout period 323 (1) No person shall transmit election advertising to the public in an electoral district on polling day before the close of all of the polling stations in the electoral district.
IX.                   MRIA members may wish to make the following know-your-client inquiries when conducting surveys related to politics or political issues during the pre-election period or the election period:
a.       A registered party or eligible party.
b.        A registered association.
c.        A nomination contestant.
d.       A candidate or a potential candidate.
e.       A third party that is required to register under subsections 349.6(1) or 353(1) of the Elections Act – Bill C-76.
 X.                 Political surveys conducted during the pre-election period or the election period must be available on an accessible website for at least two (2) years. As a best practice, the MRIA is asking that members provide a copy of the survey results to the MRIA to be housed in its archive of political surveys.   
 XI.              The use of foreign funds to conduct surveys is prohibited.

Definitions:

Pre-election period means the period beginning on the June 30 before the day set in accordance with subsection 56.1(2) for the holding of a general election and ending on the day before the earlier of:

(a) the first day of an election period for a general election, and
(b) the 37th day before the Monday referred to in subsection 56.1(2), or if the Governor in Council makes an order under subsection 56.2(3), the 37th day before the alternate day referred to in that order. (période pré-électorale)
Election survey means an election survey that is conducted by, or caused to be conducted by, a third party—a person or group other than a political party that is registered under an Act of a province—during a pre-election period or an election period and whose results the person or group takes into account
(a) in deciding whether or not to organize and carry out partisan activities or to transmit partisan advertising messages or election advertising messages, or
(b) in their organization and carrying out of those activities or their transmission of those messages. (sondage électoral)
Here is a link to  Bill C-76 Canada Elections Act 



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