In preparation for the June 2022 Ontario provincial election and a looming federal election this fall, the team at IAB Canada has been busy working to arm our members with the information they need to manage increasingly complex election legislations.
This week kicked off with an extremely productive meeting with the Elections Ontario CEO, and his compliance team, where we discussed existing legislation and publisher requirements for the upcoming provincial election. We are happy to report that they fully appreciate both the complexity of the legislation and the resulting pressure placed on publishers and reiterated that the main objectives of the legislation although they put an obligation on publishers to ensure that third party advertiser spend thresholds are not exceeded, are to increase transparency and support a fair electoral process, and NOT to fine or punish those who are doing their best to comply. For a snapshot summary of the legislation please click here.
Key Takeaways from the Discussion:
- Publishers will be deemed “in compliance” based on the spend information provided in the Elections Ontario database at the time the ad was booked. If the database indicates that an advertiser is below threshold at the time of the booking (even if it comes out later that they are above) a publisher will not be in contradiction of the act.
- Publishers cannot be held accountable for receiving false information, and it is reasonable for them to take the word of the advertiser at the time of booking. However, if they knowingly accept advertising above the limit (based on current database information) then they are in violation of the law.
- In regard to issue advertising – an issue is not an issue until it becomes a part of a political platform. This means that if the issue is not an issue at the point in time the ad was booked, it is not considered political advertising.
- If there is a complaint or a finding that a publisher could be in contravention of the act, so long as the publisher works with Elections Ontario, is open and collaborative and willing to help rectify the situation, there will be no fine. If a publisher is adversarial or non-responsive, then punishment and fines are more likely.
- Elections Ontario appreciate and recognize the likelihood of an election overlap (federal and provincial) both with different obligations. They reassured us that they work closely with Elections Canada and will do what they can to make the process easier and more streamlined.
At the request of the Elections Ontario team, IAB Canada will act as a conduit between our members and elections officials throughout the election process. We will be collecting aggregated queries from Elections Ontario on a set daily schedule and distribute the responses to our Elections working group and publisher community.
In addition, Elections Ontario has asked that IAB Canada provide a post-election report, which will include industry feedback that they can utilize for future legislative recommendations.
Discussions continue with Elections Canada to gather information and gain access to existing technical resources, in order to fully prepare our members for a federal election this fall. We expect to meet with the team at Elections Canada in the coming weeks.
If you are an IAB Canada member and would like to receive updates on this file please join our Elections working group by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org