0There are no restrictions on how much money candidates for local government elections may spend on campaigning, and no requirements for filing any statements of donations received or money spent. However, there are some restrictions on campaign activity:
Restricted advertising period:
The Municipal Elections Act provides:
55(2) Any person who, on the ordinary polling day or on the day immediately preceding it,
(a) broadcasts over any radio or television station,
(i) a speech,
(ii) any entertainment, or
(iii) any advertising program; or
(b) publishes or causes to be published in any newspaper, magazine or similar publication,
(i) a speech, or
(ii) any advertising; or
(c) transmits, conveys or causes to be transmitted or conveyed by any means to telephones, computers, telecopier machines or any other device capable of receiving unsolicited communications,
(i) a speech,
(ii) any entertainment, or
(iii) any advertising;
in favour of or on behalf of any candidate commits an offence, but this subsection shall be deemed not to prohibit a bona fide news broadcast or news publication referring to or commenting upon a speech or containing any excerpts from a speech.
Examples of unsolicited communications under paragraph (c) would include SPAM emails, Robocalls, mass faxes, etc.
Note that these provisions do not prevent a candidate’s campaign from distributing printed materials in person or by Canada Post during the restricted advertising period, nor does it prevent additional signs from being placed in the electoral district.
Use of social media during the restricted advertising period: In the case of a Twitter account held by a candidate, the candidate may post a “tweet” on their account. Persons “following” the candidate then receive an electronic “newsfeed” of the tweet for their information. Since the “followers” have already requested such notifications from the candidate, any such communication would be considered to be solicited communications and, therefore, not prohibited by subsection 55(2) of the Municipal Elections Act.
Similarly, in the case of a Facebook account held by a candidate, the candidate has “friends” who have agreed to send and receive messages with the candidate. As a result, any communication between the candidate and these “friends” are also deemed to be solicited communications. Accordingly, messages posted on the Facebook page would generally not be prohibited by the Municipal Elections Act.
Using social media is generally considered to be “solicited communication” and, thus, may occur during the restricted advertising period. On the other hand, paid advertising on social media is considered to be unsolicited communications and, thus, is prohibited during the restricted advertising period.
Election Day: On election day no advertising or campaigning of any kind may be done on or from any moving motor vehicle. In addition, there may be no advertising or campaign material of any kind placed within 30 metres (100 feet) of any premises in which a polling station is located. “Polling station” means a building, or a portion of a building, secured by a Municipal Returning Officer for the taking of the votes of electors on the ordinary polling day or an advance polling day. Candidates and one appointed scrutineer per polling station - but not their other agents, representatives or family members -- are allowed to be in any poll at any time on any polling day (ordinary or advance), as long as they do not engage in any kind of campaigning or interfere with voters or the polling process.
Advance Poll Days: There may be no advertising or campaign material within 30 metres (100 feet) of the premises in which an advance poll is being held. In addition, any advertising or campaigning using loudspeakers from a motor vehicle must not be able to be heard within thirty metres of the premises where an advance poll is being held.
Printed Advertising: All election signs, posters, handbills or other printed materials must include the name and address of the printer and publisher on the face of the document. It is an offence to not include this information.
Placement of Election Signs: The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure controls where or if signs may be placed on highway rights-of-way. Under the Highway Advertisements Regulation-Highway Act, election signs are not permitted on Level I and Level II access controlled highways (four-lane or two-lane). However, they are permitted within the highway right-of-way of other highways. In the interest of safety, any signs that are attached to a DTI sign, guard rail or bridge, installed within the median, or installed such that they reduce sight lines or visibility, will be removed immediately.
Local Governments may also have sign by-laws that control where or when election signs may be placed.
Aliant and NB Power ask candidates not to use utility poles to post campaign signs. While the practice may seem harmless, there are some potential safety concerns to be made aware of:
- the signs themselves present a safety hazard for employees who must climb poles to complete their work.
- the metal staples or clamps used to put up the signs often remain in the poles long after the election is over, these items could cause an employee to lose his or her footing while climbing. This could also be a hazard for the general public who may happen to brush the pole while walking by.
- staples or clamps will cause a pole to degrade faster than it should, therefore making them more susceptible to damage, required maintenance or possibly replacement.
Media at the Polls: Representatives of print or broadcast media may go into a poll to record the vote of a mayoral candidate, if:
- a permission form has been obtained from the Municipal Returning Officer in advance;
- the candidate has agreed;
- no interviews are conducted in the polling station; and
- the media representatives and candidate leave the polling station as soon as the candidate has cast his or her ballot.