On October 27, 2014, residents of the City of Toronto will go to the polls to cast their votes for mayor in what may be the most anticipated and internationally-watched municipal election in the City’s history. With election campaigns underway, I thought it would be relevant to explore the regulation of campaign activities on privately owned property. As one may expect, owners of private property are generally free to do as they wish with respect to campaign activities on their property; however, a few relevant regulations do exist.
The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (Ontario) prohibits landlords from restricting reasonable access to a residential complex (for example, an apartment building or certain long term care homes) 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. The Condominium Act (Ontario) contains a similar prohibition with respect to condominium corporations and their agents and employees, and both statutes impose potentially large fines for contravention of these prohibitions. While more relevant for candidates, the placement of election signs on private property is a highly regulated activity. For instance, a sign placed on private property may not be larger than 1.2 square metres in area and no higher than two metres above ground level, save and except for signs on campaign offices or billboards and signs that are displayed indoors.