Canadian environmental groups fear losing their tax-free charity status if they run paid climate change advocacy adverts ahead of the October national election, after a warning from the federal election watchdog.

Elections Canada, a non-partisan body that manages federal elections, has said that such advertising campaigns could be interpreted as partisan politics.

The watchdog strictly regulates advertising during campaign periods, and one small right-wing party running in the October election – the People’s Party of Canada (PPC) – denies climate change is man-made.

Because of this position, the issue would be considered as affiliated with a party or candidate, making advertising that takes a stance on it forbidden under the Canada Elections Act.

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