The laws regulating political participation by third parties have long been constitutionally controversial in Canada. Third parties are generally understood to include all individuals, groups and organizations, other than political parties and their affiliated entities such as riding associations. Rules relating to political expression and, especially, third party participation in provincial and federal elections have frequently been before the courts. The central constitutional dilemma posed in these cases is relatively straightforward. Any non-trivial restriction on third party political expression violates section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and harms a form of expression, namely political speech, which the Supreme Court of Canada has repeatedly said is at the “core” of the guarantee of free expression. Despite the constitutional costs imposed on third parties, however, regulating their political expression is necessary in order to ensure broader goals such as the integrity of the election and the creation of a level playing field so that politics is not simply dominated by moneyed interests.
"B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Assn. v. British Columbia (Attorney General): Mandatory Registration Rules, and Limits on Third Party Political Expression under the Charter."
The Supreme Court Law Review: Osgoode’s Annual Constitutional Cases Conference
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