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When I search "by-law Canada" in Google, everything I get is about "municipal by-laws" such as as the first result which is the website of a law firm that explains what municipal by-laws are.

Not-for-profit organizations can have their own by-laws too, but I'm able to find very little about them.

If an organization doesn't follow their own by-law, can there be any consequences other than whatever the organization itself decides on its own (assuming that no internal policy or document says anything about what happens if a by-law is violated)?

For the purpose of this question, let's assume I'm a "stakeholder" of the organization, meaning that I am directly affected if the by-laws are not followed, but I am not a "member" of the organization so I am limited in my power to achieve anything "internally".

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  • The answer is in the law you link to - read the whole thing. – Dale M Oct 17 '20 at 10:25
  • @DaleM which paragraph? 169? That's only for elections. – Nike Dattani Oct 17 '20 at 13:57
  • Primarily parts 3 and 16 but you need to read the entire Act – Dale M Oct 17 '20 at 21:32
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If an organization doesn't follow their own by-law, can there be any consequences other than whatever the organization itself decides on its own (assuming that no internal policy or document says anything about what happens if a by-law is violated)?

There are basically two possibilities.

One is that someone with standing to sue because they are affected by the by-law violation brings suit. For example, many common non-profits, like HOAs and credit unions and stock exchanges, have individuals who have economic interests in having by-laws followed in some particular instance.

The other is that usually some representative of the Crown has standing to intervene in the conduct of the affairs of non-profits. In the U.S. this would be the state attorney-general's office. I'm honestly not entirely sure precisely where in the bureaucracy the official with standing is located in Canada, but there is someone who has standing to bring such suits to challenge, for example, the looting of a private foundation for personal gain.

If no one has standing, and the Crown chooses not to intervene, however, there is generally no other sanction for violating a bylaw. If no one complains, it basically didn't happen. This said, depending upon the exact nature of the violation, a failure to follow a bylaw a long time ago could have a legal effect much later.

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  • Do you have any evidence to support this answer, in the context of Canada (not USA)? – Nike Dattani May 14 at 3:56
  • I am reasoning from a general understanding of common law doctrines not specific to the U.S. and informed by what the U.S. and Canada and the U.K. do and don't have in common, but don't have a resource for Canadian case law. The last one has real estate deals in mind especially which I have seen unfold before factually. – ohwilleke May 14 at 14:32

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