A federal election is happening. Are you prepared?

With the writ now dropped and a federal election called for October 21st, News Media Canada is providing this guide to members with some tried and true answers to common questions about election laws.

Some changes have made in the wake of the passage of Bill C-76. These include:

  • False statements: C-76 changes the provisions relating to making or publishing false statements about a candidate, prospective candidate, party leader or prominent figure associated with a party, thereby helping to foster accurate information.

Some answers to commonly asked questions include: 

Are there advertising blackout periods during the campaign?
The only time when candidates and political parties cannot advertise is on election day. (Section 323 of the Canada Elections Act)

When I publish an unofficial election poll or “streeter,” do I have to include specific wording?
Yes, if you conduct a “streeter” or unofficial poll, you are required to indicate that the survey is not based on recognized statistical methods. Also, if you publish someone else’s unofficial poll within 24 hours of its first publication, you must include a statement that it is not based on recognized statistical methods. (Section 327)

Do election ads need any special authorization?
All ads for a candidate or political party must state that the advertisement is authorized by the official agent for that candidate or by the registered agent for the political party. (Section 320)

Are there any restrictions on how much I can charge a candidate or political party?
A newspaper cannot charge a political party or candidate more than the lowest rate they charge any other advertiser for equivalent space in the same issue. (Section 348)

Are newspapers required to provide free space to political parties for advertisements?
No, there is no requirement for newspapers to provide space for political parties or candidates, either free or paid.

Are there any restrictions on when I can publish an opinion poll?
Yes, you cannot publish a new poll on election day. (Section 328)

If you have any specific questions, or require further clarification, please contact John Hinds, News Media Canada’s president and CEO, at: jhinds@newsmediacanada.ca, or you can consult the Canada Elections Act, in full, here.