Third party advertising

General information

Third party advertising is a paid message placed in any medium (broadcast, print or electronic) by an individual (other than the nominated candidate), corporation, or trade union, that supports or opposes a candidate for council, mayor or a school board.

The rules came into effect on April 1, 2018 and are in place for the 2018 municipal election.

No. The 2018 municipal election is the first in which third party advertising is regulated. There were previously no rules regulating third party advertising in municipal elections.

A third party advertiser is required to register with the city clerk if they want to advertise. Until the city clerk certifies the registration, the third party advertiser may not pay for any advertising/promotion on behalf of a candidate. The Municipal Elections Act now includes rules for third party advertising.

Individuals, corporations and trade unions in Ontario can register as third party advertisers and can also make contributions to third party advertisers. Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates. Candidates cannot register as a third party advertiser and cannot provide direction to a third party advertiser.

The following are not permitted to register:

  • municipal election candidates
  • federal and provincial political parties, constituency associations, registered candidates and leadership contestants
  • federal and provincial governments, municipalities, or local boards

You can visit the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Ministry of Housing website which has a guide for third party advertisers.

Key dates

Key date Reason
April 1, 2018 new rules come into effect
May 1, 2018 first day for third party advertisers to register
October 19, 2018 last day for third party advertisers to register
December 31, 2018 campaign period ends and last day to accept contributions
March 29, 2019 (2 p.m.) last day to file financial statements and auditor’s reports

In certain circumstances the filing date or campaign period may be extended.

Registration

Registration packages will be available for pick-up from Service Guelph at City Hall, 1 Carden Street, Guelph, beginning April 30, 2018.

Third party advertisers are required to register with the city clerk prior to incurring any expenses for advertisements or receiving any contributions. Individuals wishing to register must schedule an appointment with the city clerk by e-mailing guelphvotes@guelph.ca or by calling 519-822-1260 extension 5603.

If a third party advertiser wants to advertise in more than one municipality they must register in each municipality in which they plan to advertise. The prescribed registration forms will be released in April 2018.

Registrations can be made during City Hall business hours between May 1, 2018 and October 19, 2018.

No.

Contributions

Contributions by corporations and trade unions to candidates are banned. Corporations and trade unions can contribute to registered third party advertisers. Contributions cannot be made or accepted unless the individual, corporation or trade union is registered as a third party and can only be made during the campaign period (which begins the day the third party registers and ends on December 31, 2018). Money, goods and services are considered contributions.

The maximum contribution from a single contributor is $1,200 to a registered third party advertiser and a total of $5,000 to two or more registered third party advertisers in a municipality. These limits do not apply to contributions by a registered third party advertiser to itself and, if the registered third party is an individual, by his or her spouse.

  • an individual who is normally an Ontario resident
  • a corporation that does business in Ontario
  • a trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario
  • the registered third party and in the case of an individual, his or her spouse

Expenses

Third party advertisers will be subject to two spending limits:

  • a general spending limit
  • a separate limit for expenses related to parties and expressions of appreciation after the close of voting

The provincial government is proposing changing the formula for calculating third party spending limits. This page will be updated as soon as the final spending limits are announced by the province.

The City will provide a preliminary Certificate of Maximum Third Party Expense Limit to third party advertisers at registration. A final Certificate of Maximum Third Party Expense Limit will be provided to the registered third party advertisers by September 25, 2018. The final spending limit is based on the higher of:

  • the number of electors as of Nomination Day in the 2014 election or September 15 of the previous election for all future elections going forward
  • the number of electors as of September 15 in the 2018 election

All registered third parties must file a financial statement using a prescribed form. Third party advertisers whose contributions and total expenses are equal to or less than $10,000 are not required to file an auditor’s report with the financial statement. A registered third party whose contributions or total expenses exceed $10,000 are required to file an auditor’s report with the financial statement.

The deadline to file financial statements and auditor’s reports in the prescribed forms for the 2018 election is 2 p.m. on March 29, 2019. Prescribed forms will be released in 2018 by the provincial government. If a registered third party does not file their financial statement or exceeds their expense limit, they cannot register in the next election.

Advertisements

Third party advertisements must contain the following:

  • name of the registered third party
  • the municipality where the third party is registered
  • a telephone number, mailing address or email address at which the third party may be contacted regarding the advertisement

A broadcaster or publisher must ensure that the following information is provided to them, from the third party advertiser, for any advertisement running between May 1 and October 22, 2018:

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

The broadcaster or publisher must retain this information including a statement of the charge for the advertisement and a copy of the advertisement or means of reproducing it. This record must be retained for four years after the date the advertisement appeared and the public must be able to view these records during normal business hours.

If an advertisement is determined to be in contravention of the rules for third party advertising or a person has caused or permitted the contravention of the rules, the City may require the removal of the ad. The City will require the third-party advertiser or the owner/occupier of the land on which the contravention occurred to remove the advertising.

The City may require the following to remove or discontinue advertising:

  • a person who has contravened the rules for third party advertisers or caused/permitted the contravention
  • the owner or occupier of the land on which the contravention occurred.

Yes, a fee of $150.00 is required before third party signs are posted. Third party signs are not eligible for a refund of the fee.

Yes. All of the rules and regulations relating to candidate election signs also apply to third party advertisers. More information on election sign rules can be found on the information for all candidates page.