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by Doug Harvey
Following the Rules

In an election the goal of any candidate is to win, and today that means following the law as written in Ontario's Municipal Elections Act. The Municipal Elections Act is the framework that governs everyone that participates in an election so that the outcome produced is fair and just for all those involved.

In this election some changes to Ontario's Municipal Elections Act include new rules pertaining to third party advertising which has also had an impact on candidates rules. Now all campaign signs and any other form of election advertising must be identified as to which campaign is responsible for the advertising.

In this Municipality of Central Elgin 2018 Election there is also a Registered Third Party that will do third party advertising, so in order to distinguish campaign advertising ownership, these new rules must be followed. It is also up to the municipal clerk, the person responsible for running the election, to marshal all activities for a fair and just election, and that includes identification on all campaign signs and any other form of election advertising so that everything conforms to Ontario's Municipal Elections Act.

As a responsible Central Elgin citizen I have observed several instances of election signs and print advertising that seem to violate Ontario's Municipal Elections Act under campaign rules, and it is my opinion that if action is not taken, then a fair and just election may not be possible.

The following are excerpts from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 2018 Municipal Elections Guide

Campaigning

Signs

Your municipality may have rules about when you can put up campaign signs and how signs may be displayed on public property.

All of your campaign signs and other advertising must identify that you are responsible for the sign. This is so that people seeing the sign or advertisement can tell that it is from your campaign, rather than from a third party advertiser.

You are responsible for ensuring that your campaign signs are removed after voting day. Your municipality may require a sign deposit or have penalties for failing to remove your signs. Contact your local clerk for more information.

You are entitled to have your nomination fee refunded if you file your campaign financial statement by the filing deadline. The clerk cannot make removing your signs an additional condition for receiving your refund.

Third Party Advertising

Beginning in 2018, there are rules for third party advertising in Ontario's municipal council and school board elections.

A third party advertisement is an ad that supports, promotes or opposes a candidate or a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot.

Third party in this context means a person or entity who is not a candidate. Third party advertising is separate from any candidate's campaign and must be done independently from a candidate.

Third party advertisers who wish to spend money on advertisements during the election must register with the municipal clerk and must file a financial statement.

Eligible third party advertisers

The following are eligible to register as a third party advertiser:

  • any person who is a resident of Ontario
  • a corporation carrying on business in Ontario
  • a trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario

Groups or businesses that are not corporations cannot register as third party advertisers. Candidates cannot register as third party advertisers.

Only registered third party advertisers may spend money on advertisements supporting, promoting or opposing candidates or answers to a question on the ballot during the municipal election.

What is not considered to be third party advertising?

Activities that do not involve spending money, such as speaking with friends or strangers, or posting an opinion on social media are not considered to be third party advertising.

Advertising about an issue rather than a candidate or a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot is not considered to be third party advertising.

For more information about third party advertising rules, including spending limits and enforcement, see the Guide for third party advertisers.

Responsibilities of Registered Third Parties

Third party advertisers are required to follow many of the same financial and reporting rules as candidates.

Unlike candidates, third party advertisers cannot appoint scrutineers to observe the voting, or to be present when votes are counted.

Identification on Advertising

A third party advertiser must provide the following information on all of its advertisements, signs and other materials:

  • the legal name of the registered third party (if the third party is a corporation or trade union, the name of the corporation or trade union must appear, not the name of the representative who filed the registration)
  • the municipality where the third party is registered
  • a telephone number, mailing address or email address where the third party can be contacted

A registered individual cannot act on behalf of a group or organization that is not eligible to register as a third party advertiser. For example, if Chris Smith is the president of a business improvement association (BIA), the signs and materials must identify Chris Smith as the person responsible for the advertising, not the BIA.

If ads are going to be broadcast or published (e.g. on a radio station or in a newspaper), the ad must contain the information required above, and the third party advertiser must also provide the broadcaster or publisher with the following:

  • the name of the registered third party
  • the name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the registered third party
  • the municipality where the third party is registered

Any additional content of signs is not regulated under the act.


Last Updated: Saturday, 08 September 2018 11:30:28 AM EST

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