Election signs: Dos and don’ts

Election sign.
Election sign. Stock photo by Getty Images.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign … but during election season how can you spot the good from the bad?

It’s that time when the lawns of neighbourhoods become a colourful red, orange, blue and green with election signs.

Are you hosting such a sign? If so, do you know the rules when it comes to putting election signs on lawns and buildings?

Lately, there have been problems and issues surrounding election signs. Last week, both Liberal and Conservative election signs were set on fire in Scarborough.

Here’s a tip: setting an election on fire is a big no-no. In fact, it’s a criminal act. As per s. 325 of the Canada Elections Act: “no person shall prevent or impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message without the consent of a person with authority to authorize its transmission.”

Then there were those creative signs in Stephen Harper’s own riding in Alberta, where people could purchase a sign for $50 and put a creative message near a Harper election sign — such as “Let’s talk about your hair!”

Those signs were removed by the Calgary bylaw services as they believed it wasn’t official signage, even though they didn’t bother to check with the NDP campaign office that ran these signs. The NDP was outraged and filed a complaint against bylaw services, stating their signs were in compliance. It seems they were correct, as many signs have already been returned.

Oh, and who can forget the time there was a problem with election signs from the last Toronto mayoral race. Doug Ford, Olivia Chow and John Tory all had signs removed and were fined, because they were in violation of the rules in regards to where signs could be placed.

All these rules and legalities surrounding elections signs swirling around can give you a headache.

To clarify the rules of signage, here are a few important do’s and don’ts when it comes to election signs:

Dos

  • Getting permission of the home or business owner who owns the property, to put your sign on their property;
  • Putting a sign on public property — once you got permission from the owner;
  • Putting signage on premises leased in an apartment building — as long as you comply with the rules of the building and the owners when it comes to signs;
  • Condominium owners have the right to put election signs on the units they own, but they must follow their condominium bylaws when it comes to signs.

Don’ts

  • Putting a sign on someone’s lawn without permission.
  • Putting signs where they’re not supposed to be — for example, in the path of motorists and pedestrians.
  • Putting signs in areas that pose a health and safety risk.
  • Writing messages on election signs, that includes: smiley faces, frowny faces, obscenities, lewd signs and more.

Removing a sign without permission — you may also face trespassing charges if you enter a property to do so. Hopefully the above cleared up some confusion as to what is and is not allowed when it comes to election signs. Happy sign-hosting everyone!

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