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This Act has "Not in Force" sections. See the Table of Legislative Changes.

Election Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 106

Part 11 — Election Communications

Division 1 — General

Election advertising

228  For the purposes of this Act:

"contribution" means a contribution of money provided to a sponsor of election advertising, whether given before or after the individual or organization acts as a sponsor;

"election advertising" means the transmission to the public by any means, during the period beginning 60 days before a campaign period and ending at the end of the campaign period, of an advertising message that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party or the election of a candidate, including an advertising message that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated, but does not include

(a) the publication without charge of news, an editorial, an interview, a column, a letter, a debate, a speech or a commentary in a bona fide periodical publication or a radio or television program,

(b) the distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book, for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election,

(c) the transmission of a document directly by a person or a group to their members, employees or shareholders, or

(d) the transmission by an individual, on a non-commercial basis on the internet, or by telephone or text messaging, of his or her personal political views;

"value of election advertising" means

(a) the price paid for preparing and conducting the election advertising, or

(b) the market value of preparing and conducting the election advertising, if no price is paid or if the price paid is lower than the market value.

Tenant and strata election advertising

228.1  (1) A landlord or person acting on a landlord's behalf must not prohibit a tenant from displaying election advertising posters on the premises to which the tenant's tenancy agreement relates.

(2) A strata corporation or any agent of a strata corporation must not prohibit the owner or tenant of a strata unit from displaying election advertising posters on the premises of his or her unit.

(3) Despite subsections (1) and (2), a landlord, a person, a strata corporation or an agent referred to in that subsection may

(a) set reasonable conditions relating to the size or type of election advertising posters that may be displayed on the premises, and

(b) prohibit the display of election advertising posters in common areas of the building in which the premises are found.

Sponsorship of election advertising

229  (1) For the purposes of this Part, the sponsor of election advertising is whichever of the following is applicable:

(a) the individual or organization who pays for the election advertising to be conducted;

(b) if the services of conducting the advertising are provided without charge as a contribution, the individual or organization to whom the services are provided as a contribution;

(c) if the individual or organization that is the sponsor within the meaning of paragraph (a) or (b) is acting on behalf of another individual or organization, the other individual or organization.

(2) Where this Part requires the inclusion of a mailing address or telephone number at which a sponsor can be contacted,

(a) any mailing address given must be within British Columbia,

(b) any telephone number given must be that of a place within British Columbia, and

(c) the sponsor must make available an individual to be responsible for answering questions from the public that are directed to the address or telephone number.

(3) Where this Part requires a sponsor to be identified, for a numbered corporation or an unincorporated organization the identification must include both

(a) the name of the organization, and

(b) the name of an individual director or, if there are no individual directors, an individual who is a principal officer or a principal member of the organization.

(4) On request of the chief electoral officer,

(a) an individual identified as a sponsor, or

(b) an individual identified as a director, principal officer or principal member of an organization identified as a sponsor

must file with the chief electoral officer a solemn declaration that the identified sponsor is in fact the sponsor and that the sponsor has not contravened this Part.

No indirect sponsorship of election advertising

230  An individual or organization must not sponsor election advertising with the property of any other individual or organization or indirectly through any other individual or organization.

Election advertising must identify sponsor

231  (1) Subject to subsection (2), an individual or organization must not sponsor, or publish, broadcast or transmit to the public, any election advertising unless the advertising

(a) identifies the name of the sponsor or, in the case of a candidate, the name of the candidate's financial agent or the financial agent of the registered political party represented by the candidate,

(b) if applicable, indicates that the sponsor is a registered sponsor under this Act,

(c) indicates that it was authorized by the identified sponsor or financial agent, and

(d) gives a telephone number or mailing address at which the sponsor or financial agent may be contacted regarding the advertising.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any class of election advertising exempted under section 283.

(3) The chief electoral officer, or a person acting on the direction of the chief electoral officer, may

(a) remove and destroy, without notice to any person, or

(b) require a person to remove or discontinue, and destroy,

any election advertising that does not meet the requirements of subsection (1) and is not exempted under subsection (2).

Restriction on rates charged for election advertising

232  An individual or organization must not charge a registered political party, registered constituency association or candidate a rate for election advertising in a periodical publication or on radio or television that exceeds the lowest rate charged by the individual or organization for equivalent advertising in the same medium during the same campaign period.

Prohibition against certain election advertising on general voting day

233  (1) An individual or organization must not publish, broadcast or transmit to the public election advertising in an electoral district on general voting day before the close of all of the voting stations in the electoral district.

(2) An individual or organization must not sponsor or agree to sponsor in an electoral district election advertising that is or is to be published, broadcasted or transmitted to the public on general voting day before the close of all of the voting stations in the electoral district, whether the publication, broadcast or transmission is within British Columbia or outside British Columbia.

(3) Subject to section 234 (2) (a), subsections (1) and (2) do not apply in respect of any of the following:

(a) a notice of an event that the leader of a registered political party intends to attend or an invitation to meet or hear the leader of a registered political party;

(b) a message that was transmitted to the public on the internet before general voting day and that was not changed before the close of all of the voting stations in the electoral district;

(c) the distribution on general voting day of pamphlets or the posting of messages on signs, posters or banners.

Prohibition against transmitting new poll results on general voting day

233.1  (1) In this section, "election opinion survey" means an opinion survey respecting an election or a matter of public discussion in relation to the election, including an opinion survey respecting an issue discussed publicly in the election.

(2) An individual or organization must not publish, broadcast or transmit to the public, in an electoral district on general voting day before the close of all of the voting stations in the electoral district, the results of an election opinion survey that have not previously been made available to the public.

Restriction on election campaigning near election offices and voting places

234  (1) During a campaign period, an individual or organization must not post, display or disseminate in or within 100 metres of the building where the office of the district electoral officer is located

(a) election advertising, or

(b) any material that identifies a candidate, registered political party or registered constituency association, unless this is done with the authorization of the district electoral officer.

(2) While advance voting or general voting is being conducted at a voting place, an individual or organization must not do any of the following in or within 100 metres of the building where the voting is being conducted:

(a) post, display or disseminate

(i)   election advertising, or

(ii)   any material that identifies a candidate, registered political party or registered constituency association, unless this is done with the authorization of the district electoral officer;

(b) canvass or solicit votes or otherwise attempt to influence how a voter votes;

(c) carry, wear or supply a flag, badge or other thing indicating that the individual using it is a supporter of a particular candidate or registered political party;

(d) post, display, disseminate or openly leave a representation of a ballot marked for a particular candidate or registered political party.

(3) If subsection (1) or (2) is being contravened by the posting or display of materials, the district electoral officer or another election official authorized by the district electoral officer may enter on the property where the materials are located and remove or cover or otherwise obscure them from view.

(4) While advance voting or general voting is being conducted at a voting place, an individual or organization must not publish, broadcast or transmit to the public election advertising by means of a public address system or loudspeaker that is within hearing distance of the voting place.

Repealed

235  [Repealed 2002-60-7.]

Division 2 — Election Advertising Limits

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 60 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 60 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 60 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 235.3, 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 235.3 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 235.3, 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 235.2.

(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.

Repealed

236–238  [Repealed 2002-60-8.]

Division 3 — Registration of Sponsors

Election advertising sponsors must be registered

239  (1) Subject to subsection (2), an individual or organization who is not registered under this Division must not sponsor election advertising.

(2) A candidate, registered political party or registered constituency association is not required to be registered as a sponsor if the individual or organization is required to file an election financing report by which the election advertising is disclosed as an election expense.

(3) An individual or organization who is registered or required to be registered as a sponsor must be independent of registered political parties, registered constituency organizations, candidates, agents of candidates and financial agents, and must not sponsor election advertising on behalf of or together with any of these.

Registration with chief electoral officer

240  (1) An individual or organization who wishes to become a registered sponsor must file an application in accordance with this section with the chief electoral officer.

(2) An application must include the following:

(a) the full name of the applicant and, in the case of an applicant organization that has a different usual name, this usual name;

(b) the full address of the applicant;

(c) in the case of an applicant organization, the names of the principal officers of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, of the principal members of the organization;

(d) an address at which notices and communications under this Act and other communications will be accepted as served on or otherwise delivered to the individual or organization;

(e) a telephone number at which the applicant can be contacted;

(f) any other information required by regulation to be included.

(3) An application must

(a) be signed, as applicable, by the individual applicant or, in the case of an applicant organization, by 2 principal officers of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, by 2 principal members of the organization, and

(b) be accompanied by a solemn declaration of an individual who signed the application under paragraph (a) that the applicant

(i)   is not prohibited from being registered by section 247, and

(ii)   does not intend to sponsor election advertising for any purpose related to circumventing the provisions of this Act limiting the value of election expenses that may be incurred by a candidate or registered political party.

(4) The chief electoral officer may require applications to be in a specified form.

(5) As soon as practicable after receiving an application, if satisfied that the requirements of this section are met by an applicant, the chief electoral officer must register the applicant as a registered sponsor in the register maintained by the chief electoral officer for this purpose.

(6) If there is any change in the information referred to in subsection (2) for a registered sponsor, the sponsor must file with the chief electoral officer written notice of the change within 30 days after it occurs.

(7) A notice or other communication that is required or authorized under this Act to be given to a sponsor is deemed to have been given if it is delivered to the applicable address filed under this section with the chief electoral officer.

Obligations of registered sponsor

241  (1) The identification of a registered sponsor referred to in section 231 must be a name filed by the sponsor under section 240 with the chief electoral officer.

(2) An individual or organization who is registered or required to be registered as a sponsor must maintain records of the following information in respect of contributions received by the sponsor:

(a) in the case of anonymous contributions, the date on which the contributions were received, the total amount received on each date and, if applicable, the event at which they were received;

(b) in other cases, the information referred to in section 190 (1) (a) to (e), with the class of contributor recorded in accordance with section 245 (2).

Voluntary deregistration

242  (1) A registered sponsor may apply to the chief electoral officer for deregistration in accordance with this section.

(2) As an exception, a sponsor may not apply for deregistration under this section if the sponsor is subject to deregistration under this Part or has not yet paid a penalty under this Part.

(3) An application for deregistration must be in writing and must be signed, as applicable,

(a) by the individual applicant, or

(b) in the case of an applicant organization, by 2 principal officers of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, by 2 principal members of the organization.

(4) On being satisfied that an application for deregistration is authorized by the sponsor, the chief electoral officer must deregister the sponsor.

(5) As a limit on subsection (4), if during a campaign period a registered sponsor has sponsored election advertising, the sponsor may not be deregistered until the election advertising disclosure report for the sponsor has been filed.

Reregistration

243  In order to be reregistered, an individual or organization must file any outstanding reports and pay any outstanding penalties under this Part.

Division 4 — Disclosure of Independent Election Advertising

Independent sponsors must file disclosure reports

244  (1) Subject to subsection (3), if during a campaign period or the period beginning 60 days before the campaign period an individual or organization sponsors election advertising that has a total value of $500 or a higher amount established by regulation, the sponsor must file with the chief electoral officer an election advertising disclosure report in accordance with this section and section 245.

(2) An election advertising disclosure report under subsection (1) must be filed within 90 days after general voting day for the election to which it relates.

(3) A candidate, registered political party or registered constituency association is not required to file a report under this section if the individual or organization is required to file an election financing report by which the election advertising is disclosed as an election expense.

(4) A sponsor must file a supplementary report with the chief electoral officer if any of the information required to be disclosed in an election advertising disclosure report changes or if the sponsor becomes aware that the report does not accurately and completely disclose that information.

(5) A supplementary report under subsection (4) must be filed within 30 days after the sponsor becomes aware of the circumstances requiring the report to be filed.

Contents of disclosure report

245  (1) An election advertising disclosure report must be in the form prescribed by regulation and must include the following information:

(a) the value of the election advertising sponsored by the sponsor, reported by class as required by regulation;

(b) the amount of the contributions accepted by the sponsor during the period beginning 6 months before the election is called and ending at the end of the campaign period for the election, reported in accordance with subsections (2) to (4);

(c) any amount of the sponsor's assets, other than assets received by way of contribution reported under paragraph (b), that was used to pay for the election advertising sponsored by the sponsor;

(d) any other information required by regulation to be included.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) (b), amounts accepted from contributors must be reported separately for each of the following classes of contributor:

(a) individuals;

(b) corporations;

(c) unincorporated organizations engaged in business or commercial activity;

(d) trade unions;

(e) non-profit organizations;

(f) other identifiable contributors;

(g) anonymous contributors.

(3) If the records of the sponsor indicate that, during the period for which contributions are required to be reported, a contributor made one or more contributions of money that, in total, have a value of more than $250 or a higher amount established by regulation, the report under this section must include the following:

(a) the full name of the individual;

(b) the class of the contributor as referred to in subsection (2);

(c) if the contributor is a numbered corporation or an unincorporated organization, the full names and addresses of at least 2 individuals

(i)   who are directors of the organization, or

(ii)   if there are no individual directors, who are principal officers or principal members of the organization;

(d) the value of each contribution and the date on which it was made.

(4) For anonymous contributions, the report under this section must include the dates on which the contributions were received, the amounts received on each date and, if applicable, the events at which they were received.

(5) A report under this section must be accompanied by a signed declaration of the individual sponsor or, in the case of an organization, by a principal officer of the organization or, if there are no principal officers, by a principal member of the organization, as to the accuracy of the report.

(6) As a limit on the reporting obligations under this section, the obligations of a sponsor in relation to contributions accepted before the campaign period to which the report relates is that reasonable effort must be made to report the information required under this section.

Late filing of reports

246  If a sponsor fails to file a report under section 244 with the chief electoral officer within the time period established by that section or by a court under section 248, on payment to the chief electoral officer of a late filing fee equivalent to the applicable amount under section 220 (5) (b), the report may be filed within 30 days after the end of the time period under section 244 or before a later date permitted by a court under section 248.

Failure to file reports

247  (1) Unless relief is granted by a court on an application under section 248 commenced before the end of the late filing period under section 246, if an election advertising disclosure report is not filed with the chief electoral officer before the end of that period, 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 equivalent to the applicable amount under section 220 (5) (b) for each day after the last day on which it may be filed under section 246 up to the date on which it is in fact filed.

(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) The penalties referred to in subsection (1) are effective as follows:

(a) if no application under section 248 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 248, the court refuses to grant relief from the penalty, at the time of that determination.

Court order for relief from filing obligations

248  (1) A sponsor subject to section 246 or 247 may apply to the Supreme Court in accordance with this section for relief from an obligation to file an election advertising disclosure report or from a penalty in relation to the filing of such a report.

(2) An application may be made only within 120 days after general voting day for the election in relation to which the report is required or, if the failure is disclosed in a supplementary report under section 244 (4), within 30 days after the supplementary report is filed.

(3) Within 7 days after it is filed, the petition commencing an application must be served on the chief electoral officer.

(4) The applicant and the chief electoral officer are parties to the application.

(5) On the hearing of an application, the court may do the following:

(a) relieve the sponsor from the obligation to file the report, or from specified obligations in relation to the report, if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(b) grant an extension of the time for filing the report without payment of a late filing fee under section 246 if

(i)   the application is commenced before the end of the time for filing without penalty, and

(ii)   the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(c) grant an extension of the time for filing the report, subject to payment of the late filing fee under section 246, if the court considers that, in relation to the non-compliance, the sponsor acted in good faith;

(d) make any order the court considers appropriate to secure compliance with this Act and the regulations to the extent the court considers reasonable in the circumstances;

(e) refuse to grant an extension or other relief.

Obligation to maintain records

249  An individual or organization who is or has been a sponsor of election advertising must

(a) ensure that the records required for the purposes of this Part are maintained in British Columbia, and

(b) retain these records for at least 5 years, or a longer period specified by the chief electoral officer, from the date of filing of a report required under this Division in relation to those records.

Information to be open to the public

250  The information filed under this Part with the chief electoral officer since the general election before the previous general election must be available for public inspection at the office of the chief electoral officer during its regular office hours.

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