The Municipal Elections Act now includes a framework for third party advertising. The framework will come into effect on April 1, 2018, so that the rules will be in place for the 2018 municipal election.
A third party is any person or entity that is not a political party, candidate or constituency association, and that engages in political advertising. Third parties include corporations, partnerships, unincorporated businesses and associations, and many other groups.
A third party advertisement is a message in any medium (billboard, newspaper, radio, etc.) that supports or opposes a candidate or a “yes” or “no” vote on a question on the ballot. Third party advertising does not include issues-based advertising so groups that do public outreach can continue their issued-based advocacy work throughout the municipal election period. Advertising that does not cost money to post or broadcast, such as comments made on social media, will not be considered to be third party advertising.
Individuals, corporations and unions can register as third party advertisers and can also make contributions to third party advertisers. Third party advertisers will need to register with the municipality where they want to advertise. If they want to advertise in more than one municipality, they have to register in each municipality. Registration allows a third party advertiser to promote or oppose any candidate that the electors in the municipality can vote for (local council, school board trustee positions and regional or county council offices). Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates, who are not able to direct a third party advertiser. Candidates are not able to register as third party advertisers.
If approached by Third Party Advertisers, it is very important that you adhere to the following mandatory rules:
- By Section 88.4 of the Act, broadcasters and publishers may only permit third party advertisements to appear between May 1, 2018 and Election Day (October 22, 2018);
- A registered third party must provide the following information to the broadcasters or publisher in writing before the third party advertisements appears:
- The name of the registered third party;
- The name of the 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 registered third party is registered;