How interested outsiders take advantage of their ‘third party’ position to promote issues and sway elections

'third party' status
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During the campaign, scores of third parties are likely to spend millions of dollars.

With an election underway, political parties are officially vying for Canadian ballots, crisscrossing the country and campaigning until Sept. 20. Parties will spend a lot of money to pay for all of this travel, advertising, and election gear.

However, political parties and candidates will not be the only ones investing heavily in the election. “Third parties” will also be in the mix, trying to influence the political discussion, get their issue emphasized, and strengthen or weaken other political actors.

Third parties receive significantly less attention than the major political parties that will ultimately send MPs to Ottawa, but they can nevertheless have a considerable impact on discussions and elections. So, what exactly do they do?

Third parties can be any Canadian individual or organization that engages in political activity throughout the election period (from the announcement of the election to election day), as long as they are not registered political parties, electoral district associations, or candidates.

Third parties must register with Elections Canada after spending $500 on regulated activities during the election. In this election, little under 50 entities have registered as third parties.

During the 2019 federal election, a diverse range of third parties registered with the country’s electoral agency throughout the campaign, ranging from labor unions like Unifor to issue groups like 350 Canada and ideological enterprises like the conservative Facebook group Canada Proud. All three of those organizations have registered to vote in this election.

Then there are a select few Canadians who enjoy spending a significant amount of money to amplify their own voice.