Third Party Advertisers Information
The Municipal Elections Act has been amended to include requirements for Third Party Advertisers. Broadcasters and Publishers must comply with the new laws if they broadcast or publish a third party advertisement. This page is intended to inform broadcasters and publishers of their new obligations under the Municipal Elections Act, and is for reference only. For legal advice, please consult legal counsel.
Broadcasters or publishers, who wish to conduct third party advertising, must register with the Clerk as a third party advertiser and follow the Act's requirements. For further information, visit the Government of Ontario's website or contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Definition of a Third Party Advertiser
Under the Act, a registered third party advertiser is an individual, corporation or trade union that has registered with the Clerk of the municipality where they want to advertise.
Third party advertisers must register prior to incurring any expenses for the appearance of a third party advertisement, and must comply with requirements including filing a financial statement(s), spending and contribution limits. A list of registered third party advertisers will be available on this site.
Only those who have registered can spend money on third party advertising. The following are eligible to register as a third party advertiser:
If 2 or more corporations are owned or controlled by the same person or people, or if 1 corporation controls another, they are considered to be a single corporation. If the same person or people own or control multiple corporations, only 1 of those corporations may register to be a third party in a municipality.
There is no restriction against family members or campaign staff of candidates registering to be third party advertisers. However, third party advertising must be done independently of the candidate. If a person with close ties to a candidate wishes to register they should consider how these activities may look to the public and how they would be able to demonstrate that they were not working in co-ordination with the candidate. A candidate in the election cannot direct a third party advertiser.
Definition of a Third Party Advertisement
A third party advertisement is a message in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a candidate in the election, or a question on the ballot.
Third party advertisements must contain the following information as prescribed by Subsection 88.5(1) of the Municipal Election Act:
What is not a Third Party Advertisement?
Activities that do not involve spending money, such as discussions or expressing an opinion about a candidate (or an answer to a question on the ballot) are not considered to be third party advertising. Examples include:
Internal communications from an employer to their employees, a corporation to its shareholders, directors, members or employees or by a trade union to its members or employees 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 third party advertising. For example, signs saying “Support local businesses” or “Keep the waterfront green” would not be third party advertising, even if a candidate has made those issues part of their campaign.
A registered third party advertiser must provide the following information to the broadcaster or publisher in writing before the third party advertisement appears:
The broadcaster or publisher of a third party advertisement must maintain records for 4 years after the date the advertisement appears. These records must contain:
The public must be permitted to inspect the records during normal business hours.
Charges and Contributions
The broadcaster or publisher may not charge a third party advertiser more or less than their normal advertising rate. If less is charged, the difference is deemed to be a contribution to the third party advertiser. Providing free advertising is considered a contribution towards the third party advertiser, unless all third party advertisers are offered the same service.
Advertising and Sign By-laws
The Town of Wasaga Beach, and the County of Simcoe have by-laws in place that set out rules to follow.