Political Party Registration Policy
Verifying the Primary Purpose Test
For the purposes of the Election Act, a political party is defined as “an organization that has as a primary purpose the fielding of candidates for election to the Legislative Assembly.” [Section 155(1)]
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) is required to review each application for registration to determine whether the political party meets the requirements for registration. [Section 158(1)]. Part of the application includes a solemn declaration that the organization is a political party – that is, an organization that has a primary purpose of fielding candidates.
Section 158 provides that the CEO may require an applicant organization to provide any additional information or evidence the CEO considers necessary to determine if the organization has a primary purpose of fielding candidates.
Registration as a political party brings significant benefits. Registered political parties can issue income tax receipts, be identified on ballot papers and may incur election expenses. Granting registered political parties the ability to issue income tax receipts for political contributions serves two important public policy functions: it recognizes the important role that political parties play in our democratic process and it encourages participation in the political process.
As the ability to issue income tax receipts for contributions is a significant benefit that is supported by taxpayers, EBC must ensure that applicant organizations are “political parties” as defined by the legislation.
In addition to the solemn declaration of primary purpose, evidence to verify the primary purpose test will be required for registration.
Acceptable evidence could include:
- a published platform, political theme, or message or party constitution that indicates the organization’s commitment to field candidates in future provincial elections; or
- if the organization is affiliated with a federal political party that is registered under the Canada Elections Act, a letter of endorsement from the registered federal party, indicating that the provincial party is being established to field candidates in provincial elections.