The plot thickens: Elections BC clarifies SCC's clarification of third party election advertising sponsorship

By Rachel H Roy

Last week, we blogged about the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision clarifying the definition of sponsorship in relation to third party election advertising during BC provincial elections. We noted that Elections BC needed to provide further guidance on how it would be approaching this issue in light of the upcoming provincial election.

June 15, 2018 UPDATE: Elections BC has removed the bulletin in question from its website. The approach to individual sponsors under the Election Act will be based on the guidance contained in the SCC's decision.

This week (Feb 2017), Elections BC put out a bulletin that attempts to clarify the Supreme Court of Canada's clarification. In a nutshell, EBC's position is that if you, as an individual acting alone, make fewer than 26 signs or pamphlets by yourself, using your own supplies and equipment, and you hand-deliver these to fewer than 26 people, then you will not be caught be the definition of a "sponsor" in the BC Election Act. However, organizations, including groups of individuals, that conduct any sort of election advertising will be considered sponsors and subject to all the rules regarding advance registration, authorization lines, and disclosure reporting.

The organization that brought the legal action that resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada's recent decision disagrees with EBC's bulletin. The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, along with the BC Civil Liberties Association, sent a joint letter to BC's Chief Electoral Officer this morning outlining their concerns. They take issue with a number of Election BC's interpretations, including the exclusion of organizations, from the scope of the SCC's clarification. 

We'll keep you posted as this unfolds. In the meantime, don't forget to register for our upcoming workshop, Election Advertising Sponsorship 101, which will be held on February 28th.

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