POLICY STATEMENT

This policy sets out provisions for the use of City facilities, resources and infrastructure during an election period, in order to preserve the public trust and integrity in the elections process and to comply with the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 (“Act”). This policy allows the City to balance the need for freedom of expression and assembly of candidates and its legal responsibility to ensure that no candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party is provided with an unfair advantage.

This policy recognizes that Members of Council are holders of their office until the end of the term and supports them in continuing to fulfill their responsibilities as Members of Council. Nothing in this policy shall preclude a Member of Council from performing their duty as an elected official, nor inhibit them from representing the interests of their constituents.

 

PURPOSE & BACKGROUND

The Act requires municipalities to establish rules and procedures for the use of municipal resources during the election period (section 88.18). The Act also provides that the City cannot make a contribution (including money, goods and services) to any candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party during an election (sections 88.8(4) and 88.12(4)). The Election Finances Act and the Canada Elections Act impose similar contribution restrictions for provincial and federal election campaigns, respectively.

The provisions in this Policy may also be subject to additional City by-laws and policies.

 

APPLICATION

This policy applies to municipal (including school board), provincial or federal elections or by-elections and to questions on the ballot. References in the policy with respect to political parties refers to provincial and federal elections or by-elections and do not apply to the City’s municipal elections or by-elections.

 

PROVISIONS

1.1 City facilities and City infrastructure may not be used for any election-related purpose by a candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party. In particular, signs may not be erected or displayed on or adjacent to a City park or facility that is owned or operated by the City, in accordance with Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 693, Signs, Article II, Election Signs.

 

1.2 No permits, licenses, leases or any other agreement for the use of City facilities, including civic squares and parks, will be issued to promote, support or oppose a particular candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party.

 

1.3 All-candidate meetings may be held at City facilities for a nominal fee or other consideration provided that all candidates for an office are invited to attend such meetings.

 

1.4 Candidates, registered third party advertisers or political parties may not distribute campaign materials on or in City facilities or at City events, but are permitted to distribute campaign materials on public right of way sidewalks and thoroughfares, during all-candidates meetings, at public parks and at the following City managed public squares: Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, Albert Campbell Square and David Pecaut Square.

 

1.5 The City may issue a permit for the use of a City facility for election-related education purposes only, as long as no particular candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party is promoted, supported or opposed at the event. These events may include, but are not limited to: informing Members of Council or the public on how to become a candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party, or informing them on how to organize an election campaign.

 

1.6 Canvassing and distribution of campaign materials in some City facilities is permitted under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (“RTA”), which states that “No landlord shall restrict reasonable access to a residential complex by candidates for election to any office at the federal, provincial or municipal level, or their authorized representatives, if they are seeking access for the purpose of canvassing or distributing election material.” City-operated Long-Term Care Homes and other City facilities governed under the provisions of the RTA fall under the definition of “residential complex”.

 

1.7 Informal media scrums are permitted in the public or common areas at Toronto City Hall, Metro Hall, civic centres and at the following City managed public squares: Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, Albert Campbell Square and David Pecaut Square.

Informal media scrums may not include: apparatus, mechanisms or devices for the amplification of the human voice or any sounds. The activity may not disrupt regular City business. If the media scrum is disrupting City services, City staff may ask the participants to find an alternative location.

 

2.1 The City’s logo, crest, slogans, etc., may not be printed, posted or distributed on any election-related campaign materials or included on any election-related website, in accordance with the City’s Corporate Identity Program, except to link to the City’s website to obtain information about the municipal election.

 

2.2 Candidates may not post photographs of themselves with City employees in uniform.

 

2.3 Photographic or video materials which have been or may be created by City employees or with City resources may not be used for any election purpose or in campaign materials.

 

2.4 Websites or domain names that are funded by the City may not include any campaign materials, make reference to and identify any individual as a candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party or profile any slogan or symbol associated with a candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party.

 

2.5 Domain names, websites or City email addresses that the City funds may not include any election-related campaign material and may not be re-designated for campaign purposes or provide a link to a campaign site.

 

2.6 Members of Council should follow the guidance of the Integrity Commissioner with respect to social media use.

 

3.1 Information provided to one candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party that is of a general nature and may provide valuable guidance to all others will be provided to all candidates, registered third party advertisers or political parties. The City will post the information on the internet or through other mechanisms to ensure equal access to information.

 

3.2 Requests by a candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party for personal meetings with Division Heads or other City employees, as well as requests for tours of City facilities may not always be accommodated due to resource and time constraints. If a meeting or a tour is organized, the division must commit to organizing a similar meeting or tour for all other candidates, registered third party advertisers or political parties.

 

3.3 City databases, with the exception of those specifically made for the use of candidates and registered third party advertisers, may not be used by any candidate, registered third party advertiser or political party, unless the database has already been released for public use.

 

4.1 Candidates, registered third party advertisers or political parties are permitted to attend City events, or events held at City facilities, in either their capacity as elected representatives or as private citizens, but may not campaign while in attendance. No election signs may be posted and no campaign materials may be disseminated at City events.

 

4.2 Elected officials are permitted to attend City-organized events or events held on City facilities and act as ceremonial participants in their capacity as elected officials, including speaking at the event and partaking in ceremonial activities. In provincial or federal elections, once the writ is issued, MPPs and MPs, with the exception of the Ministers of the Crown, are no longer elected officials and therefore should not be invited to attend City events.

 

5.1 Members of Council may also be candidates in a municipal election. Accordingly, after August 1 in the municipal election year, the City will discontinue the following activities for Members of Council, irrespective of whether they are seeking election in the new term or not:

 

5.1.1 All forms of advertising and communication, including in municipal publications and social media accounts, that are paid for by City funds or operated and distributed by the City will not reference the name or image of a Member of Council.

 

5.1.2 Signage for City events, including banners and posters, will not reference the name of a Member of Council.

 

5.1.3 The City’s media releases or materials will not reference the name of a Member of Council. Where the City would typically name a specific Member of Council or the Mayor in its communications or media materials during an election period, it will make reference to the generic term “Councillor Ward XX” or “Mayor of Toronto” without naming the specific Member of Council. With the exception of inter-governmental initiatives (per clause 5.3 below), this practice will be used for all City programs, events, announcements and to ensure effective communications with residents and businesses with respect to operational requirements, impacts or emergency situations

 

5.1.4 Ceremonial documents such as retirement scrolls for employees, scrolls in celebration of anniversaries, Letters of Greeting and other celebratory documents normally signed and distributed by Members of Council will be signed by the Mayor as the Chief Executive Officer of the City. The City Clerk will mail documents directly to the recipient(s).

 

5.2 Members of Council are responsible for ensuring that the content of any communication material, including printed materials such as newsletters, advertising, etc., that the City funds for the operation of each Member’s Office is not directly election-related.

 

5.3 After August 1 in the municipal election year, the Mayor will be subject to the same restrictions as Members of Council, but will continue to be named in media releases and City materials related to inter-governmental activities only in his or her capacity as Chief Executive Officer of the City.

 

Adopted by: City Council

Date adopted: February 1, 2018