Bill 42: Don’t Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is?

Posted by Johannes Schenk on May 16th, 2008 — Posted in Human Rights Law

Bill 42 has gotten a few of us a little worked up. See the offending language here. In Particular:

66 The following sections are added to Division 2:
Third party advertising limits

235.1 (1) In respect of a general election conducted in accordance with section 23 (2) of the Constitution Act, an individual or organization other than a candidate, registered political party or registered constituency association must not sponsor, directly or indirectly, election advertising during the period beginning 120 days before the campaign period and ending at the end of the campaign period

(a) such that the total value of that election advertising is greater than

(i) $3 000 in relation to a single electoral district, and

(ii) $150 000 overall, or

(b) in combination with one or more individuals or organizations, or both, such that the total value of the election advertising sponsored by those individuals and organizations is greater than

(i) $3 000 in relation to a single electoral district, and

(ii) $150 000 overall.

(2) In respect of a general election conducted other than in accordance with section 23 (2) of the Constitution Act, the limits under subsection (1) do not apply to the period beginning 120 days before campaign period, but do apply to the campaign period.

(3) In respect of a by-election, the limits under subsection (1) do not apply to the period beginning 120 days before campaign period, but the limits under subsection (1) (a) (i) and (b) (i) do apply to the campaign period.

(4) Section 204 applies to adjust the amounts under this section.
Penalties for exceeding third party advertising limit

235.2 (1) Unless relief is granted by a court under section 238, if a sponsor exceeds an election advertising limit, the sponsor

(a) is deregistered as a sponsor under Division 3 of this Part and is not entitled to be reregistered as a sponsor until after the next general election, and

(b) must pay to the chief electoral officer a penalty of 10 times the amount by which the value of the election advertising sponsored by the sponsor exceeds the limit.

(2) In the case of a sponsor that is an unincorporated organization, the members of the organization are jointly and severally liable to pay the penalty under subsection (1) (b).

(3) A penalty referred to in subsection (1) is effective as follows:

(a) if no application under section 238 is made in respect of the sponsor, at the end of the period for making such an application;

(b) if, on the final determination of an application under section 238, the court refuses to grant relief from the penalty, at the time of that determination.
Court order for relief from advertising limit

235.3 (1) A sponsor may apply to the Supreme Court in accordance with this section for relief from penalties under section 237.

(2) An application may be made only within 120 days after general voting day for the election in relation to which the election advertising limit was exceeded.

(3) The petition commencing an application must be served on the chief electoral officer within 7 days after it is filed and the chief electoral officer is a party to the application.

(4) On the hearing of an application, the court may

(a) grant relief from a penalty if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith, or

(b) refuse to grant relief.

I thought this was Canada?

Is it fair? Is it a constitutional infringement? Well I guess they got their opinion in advance. So did the waterboarding guys.

Do you ever read those ads anyway, before you get to the living section and the real estate section? Will this cause billboard advertisers heartache? What will I do for dart board targets?

Is there a real concern that voters are being coerced by people with way too much money to perpetuate their misguided opinions?

I suppose that the folks that don’t have money to advertise will now have a chance to get their face into it as much as the guys with the wheelbarrows of money for that kind of thing?

Whatever the problem that this legislation might cure, I don’t like it anymore than I like the dumb ads. I’d probably hold my breath and vote you out just on the basis of the above quoted sections. Oopsie, there goes my promotion.

I just had an idea. As law abiding as any lawyer can be I’m going to let people advertise on my website for free. I suppose there are other ways of testing this law. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

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