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Friday, June 20, 2014

Elections Ontario on illegal Working Families Signs: blame the Liberals for not amending legislation

In the lead up to the Ontario election two weeks ago, the Working Families Coalition put up hundreds of illegal signs across the province, attacking Tim Hudak and the Conservatives.  In Ottawa, these signs were blatantly illegal, and they were strategically placed to allow them to stay up while bylaw enforcement took the weekend to respond.

I am still waiting on the City of Ottawa's response to these illegal signs.

I contacted Elections Ontario and this was their response:


"While organizations that sponsor political advertising during an election are required to register with Elections Ontario, the Election Finances Act (EFA) does not regulate content of the advertisements or placement of signs. However; all political advertisement needs to have proper authorization indicating who sponsored/paid for the advertising. For a full list of registered third parties, please visit - http://www.elections.on.ca/en-CA/CandidatesAndParties/Third+Parties+2014GE.htm.

Many of your concerns have been addressed by the Chief Electoral Officer in his 2011/2012 Annual Report.  I have inserted below “Third Party Advertising Rules” from the  “Recommended Legislative Amendments” section of the Report.  The complete Report is available here -  http://www.elections.on.ca/NR/rdonlyres/E25D3F5D-0A65-4F0D-AFF3-A219993F8DC5/5828/20112012EOAnnualReportweb.pdf

Third Party Advertising Rules
The Chief Electoral Officer recommends that an independent body be established to investigate options to strengthen third party advertising rules in Ontario. The review should provide specific recommendations on how Ontario can:
• Adopt third party spending limits
• Adopt third party contribution limits
• Strengthen the reporting requirements for third parties, and
• Adopt stricter registration and anti-collusion provisions
As part of a comprehensive review of the Election Finances Act, rules regarding third party advertising should be considered to align Ontario with the best practices in other provinces. Currently, at least five jurisdictions (Canada, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta, and New Brunswick) have adopted controls over third party advertising.
The 2011 General Election was the second general provincial election that required third parties to register with Elections Ontario. In 2007, only one third party raised and spent more than $1 million on political advertising. In 2011, this number increased with three third parties raising and spending more than $1 million, and one of those parties raising and spending more than $2 million. The table below provides a comparison of the amount raised and spent by registered third parties in 2007 and 2011.
We appreciate that you have taken time to express your concerns to Elections Ontario.  Our agency will take your comments into consideration."

It's good news that Elections Ontario is responding. Make sure you contact them to register your complaints.