June 9, 2021 •
Ontario Court Strikes Down Province’s Pre-Election Period Restriction for Third Party Advertising
On June 8, an Ontario, Canada Superior Court judge struck down a section of the province’s Election Finances Act that mandated a 12-month pre-election period restricting third party advertising.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward M. Morgan’s decision, Working Families Ontario v. Ontario, explicitly holds that the period will no longer be in effect. The restricted pre-election spending period of 12 months had a $600,000 limit on third-party political advertisement expenditures.
Judge Morgan found the law was unconstitutional and a violation of the “freedom of expression” for the parties suing the province.
As noted by the judge in his decision, the next election in Ontario is scheduled to take place on June 2, 2022, already within the 12-month restricted period for political advertisements under the section being stricken. Judge Morgan wrote, “It would be unfair to the Applicants (and to other potential third-party political advertisers) for statutory provisions that have been declared unconstitutional to remain in operation during this time.” He found the burden of addressing the issue should remain on the legislature to craft an appropriate and constitutional provision.
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