Election advertising is a contentious issue, mostly commonly associated with the ‘attack ads’ that seem to invade our televisions and radios before Election Day. We wrote about attack ads back in October during the Ontario Provincial Election, and in March during the lead up to the Alberta Provincial Election. We mentioned that a poll conducted by Advertising Standards Canada on Canadian feelings towards advertising shows that Canadians don’t believe the claims made in attack ads and want them to be subject to stricter rules.
Winnipeg’s civic election officer, Marc Lemoine, is hoping to do just that.
The Winnipeg Free Press reports that Lemoine fears a growth in negative advertising by organizations and political parties because they are exempt from regulation. The legislation currently regulates only third-party advertising that endorses a candidate. Those ads must be approved by the candidate benefitting from the endorsement and the cost must be attributed to that candidate’s campaign expenses. Negative ads are not regulated, nor do they need any candidate approval.
Lemoine presented a report to the Executive Policy Committee with several suggestions for future civic elections, including his recommendations for regulating negative election ads.
The British Columbia government is also in the midst of addressing election advertising. This month saw the introduction of a bill in the legislature that would limit third party spending to $150,000 during the election period and 40 day lead-up to the writ.
The Tyee recounts that in 2009 the Supreme Court of B.C. struck down a similar law, but that Premier Christy Clark claims to have addressed the concerns in the previous law. “With a fixed election date and defined spending limits during the campaign period, you also need to limit the spending ahead of the campaign period, said Clark. “It’s become clear over the last decade that we’ve had fixed election dates this needs to change.”
The Vancouver Sun ran a special last week that points out that the Elections Act requires third parties to register with Elections BC as an ‘elections advertising sponsor’ prior to campaigning, or risk facing a fine. The authors of this special fear that this will significantly limit civic participation and discussion during an election, boldly claiming “The British Columbia government wants you to shut up during the next election.” The trio also co-authored a 2010 study Election Chill Effect: The Impact of B.C.’s New Third Party Advertising Rules on Social Movement Groups.
Watch a short interview on our YouTube channel where David Herle discusses the different kinds of election advertising.
What do you think about regulating election ads?
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