Re: Election Advertising by Third Party Advertisers
The Local Authorities Election Act( LAEA) is the legislation that guides the conduct of municipal and school board elections. The LAEA has gone through a number of amendments by both the NDP and the UCP governments . The most notable changes included who could or could not donate to a campaign – most notably that corporations and trade unions could not donate to candidates’ campaigns and the roles of Third Party Advertiser. For corporations and
trade unions to participate in the election process they can only donate to a Third Party Advertiser. In the latest amendments the ability for a Third Party Advertiser to conduct “political advertising” was removed and limited Third-Party Advertisers to conducting election advertising during the Election Period – May 1 of the election year to the date of the election.
The term election advertising is defined by the LAEA. Generally, it is advertising that promotes or opposes a candidate. Section 162(1)(d) of the LAEA provide a specific definition for “election advertising” as follows:
(d) “election advertising” means, subject to subsection (3), the transmission to the public by any means during an election advertising period of an advertising message that promotes or opposes the election of a candidate and for greater certainty does not include
(i) the transmission to the public of an editorial, a debate, a speech, an interview, a column, a letter, a commentary or news,
(ii) the distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book, for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election,
(iii) the transmission of a document or the communication directly by a
corporation or a group to its members, employees or shareholders, as the
case may be,
(iv) the transmission by an individual, corporation or group, on a non-commercial basis on the Internet, of the political views of that individual,
corporation or group,
(v) the making of telephone calls to electors only to encourage them to
(vi) advertising by the local jurisdiction in any form, or
(vii) the transmission to the public in a local jurisdiction that is not a local jurisdiction for which the advertising message was intended and in which there is no candidate and no vote on a question or bylaw to which the transmission relates;
The LAEA further goes on to include in the definition of “election advertising” the holding of an event where the primary purpose of the event is to promote or oppose a candidate. Section162(3) provides:
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)(d), “election advertising” includes
(a) canvassing for the benefit of a candidate, and
(b) organizing events where the primary purpose of the event is to
promote or oppose a candidate.
In determining the “primary purpose” of an event held by a Third-Party Advertiser section 162(4)provides
(4) In determining the primary purpose of an event under subsection (3)(b), the
following factors, in addition to anyother relevant information, shall be used:
(a) whether it is reasonable to conclude that the event was specifically planned
to coincide with an election;
(b) whether the formatting or branding of promotional materials for the
event is similar to the formatting, branding or election material used
by a candidate;
(c) the extent to which an election or any candidate is referred to, either
directly or indirectly, in promotional materials for the event or at the
(d) whether the event is consistent with previous events held by that third party;
(e) whether messages conveyed at the event are political messages
associated with a candidate.
Third Party Advertisers are allowed to conduct fund raising functions Section 172 of the LEAL specifically provides defines “fund raising function” and the reporting requirements:
(1) In this section, “fund-raising function” includes any social function
held for the purpose of raising funds for a third party required to be
registered under section 163 by whom or on whose behalf the function
(2) The gross income from any fund-raising function must be recorded by
the chief financial officer of the third party that held the function or on
whose behalf the function was held.
Calgary Tomorrow, being a registered Third Party Advertiser, is allowed to conduct events and hold fund raising functions in support of a candidate. Such events or functions will be deemed to be “election advertising” if the criteria set out by the LAEA is met and Calgary Tomorrow will therefore be required to record and report all receipts and expenses of such event in their advertising return to be filed on or before March 2022.