It is now official: on Sunday Prime Minister Harper attended Rideau Hall and asked the Governor General to dissolve Parliament and set a general election date for October 19, 2015. Blue, green, orange and red electoral signs will soon be popping everywhere and candidates will start canvassing their constituents. Boards and property managers will soon receive requests from candidates and their representatives wanting to access the property for canvassing purposes. More importantly, boards and property managers will have to deal with occupants wanting to put up electoral signs, while other occupants may take objection to them.

Here are the rules applicable to canvassing and to electoral signs during a federal election.

Candidates can access the corporation

In Ontario, section 118 of the Condominium Act, 1998 is clear about canvassing. This section provides that a condominium corporation cannot restrict reasonable access to the property by candidates for election to the House of Commons, the Legislative Assembly or an office in a municipal government or school board if access is necessary for the purpose of canvassing or distributing election material. The Canada Elections Act further provides that this right of access is between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. Corporations must therefore grant access to candidates or their authorized representatives between these hours.

Occupants can put up electoral signs

What about electoral signs? Can a condominium corporation restrict owners from placing signs in their windows or on their balcony? The Condominium Act, 1998 is silent on this.

During a federal election, such as the present one, the Canada Elections Act provides that no condominium corporation or any of its agents may prohibit the owner of a condominium unit from displaying election advertising posters on the premises of his or her unit. Owners can therefore show their colour and place electoral signs, but such a right is limited to posting such signs in/on their unit. The Canada Elections Act also specifically provides that condominium corporations may set reasonable conditions relating to the size or type of election advertising posters that may be displayed on the premises and may prohibit the display of election advertising posters in common areas of the building.

It is interesting to note that the rules applicable to a federal election are different from those applicable to provincial or municipal elections. In the case of provincial or municipal elections, corporations must consult provincial legislation, municipal by-laws and the corporation’s governing documents.