November 2017
Election Express # 5 – What’s all this fuss about Third Party Advertising…

2017-11-30 11:35:26 AM

What is a Third Party Advertiser? 

A third party advertiser (TPA) is a message in any medium (billboard, newspaper, radio, etc) that supports or opposes a candidate or supports a yes or no vote on a question on the ballot. 

Third party advertising does not include issues-based advertising. Therefore, groups that do public outreach can continue their issues based advocacy work throughout the municipal election period. 

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs is currently proposing amendments to Ontario Regulation 101/97 under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 to: 

  • provide for the spending limit for third party advertisers and to set the limit that third party advertisers can spend on parties and gifts of appreciation; and

  • make changes to the forms to reflect provisions of the Act that come into force on April 1, 2018.

    • A third party advertising guide should also be available from the Ministry in April 2018.  

For more information, view the updated Act: 

So, who can register as a TPA? 

Individuals, corporations and unions can register as third party advertisers and can also make contributions to third party advertisers.  

Third party advertising must be done independently of candidates, who are not able to direct a third party advertiser. Candidates are not able to register as third party advertisers.  

What are the TPA Spending Limits? 

The 2018 municipal elections will be the first in which TPA is regulated. There were previously no rules regulating TPA in municipal elections. 

TPA’s will be subject to two spending limits:

  • a general spending limit; and

  • a separate limit for expenses related to parties and expressions of appreciation after the close of voting. 

Under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, TPA’s will be subject to a spending limit that varies by the number of electors in the municipality in which the TPA is registered. Changes proposed to O. Reg. 101/97 include the following formula for calculating third party spending limits: $5,000 plus $0.05 per elector, to a maximum of $25,000. 

The proposed formula consists of a base amount plus a per elector amount to a predetermined maximum. 

The Act also provides that the spending limit for parties and other expressions of appreciation after voting day be set at 10% of the general spending limit. This would be consistent with the spending limit already in place for candidates. 

As mentioned, additional changes to forms, and a guide for TPA’s are expected in April, 2018. 

TPA Registration Requirements 

  • In accordance with section 88.4 of the Act, TPA’s are required to register with the clerk of the municipality prior to incurring any expenses for advertisement (opposing or supporting a candidate). 

  • If they want to advertise in more than one municipality, they have to register in each municipality they plan to advertise. This will be important to explain to TPA’s when they register and may be something you want to highlight in the materials your municipality distributes. 

  • The changes for TPA’s does not include a requirement for them to pay a registration fee.  

  • However, if your municipality, under its sign by-law does require a fee for signage you may want to consider how you are accepting registrations, and how you will share the registration list with your by-law staff to ensure everyone is aware of who has registered.  

  • TPA’s and candidates will be required to identify themselves on signs and advertisements. 

Things to consider adding to your TPA registration form? 

  • Name of person filing the registration,

  • Name of the organization, group, corporation being represented by way of the registration,

  • Address of the organization,

  • Date the registration was filed. 

Campaign Period (‘restricted period’) 

The “restricted period for third party advertisers” begins on the earliest day that an individual, corporation or trade union is permitted to file a notice of registration as a registered third party in relation to the election (May 1, 2018) and ends at the close of voting on voting day (October 22, 2018).

Political Advertising 

“Third party advertisement” means an advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing,

  1. a candidate, or

  2. a “yes” or “no” answer to a question referred to in subsection 8(1), (2) or (3) of the Act,

A third party advertisement does not include an advertisement by or under the direction of a candidate or an advertisement described in subsection (2) or (2.1).

Communication Considerations with TPA’s / Publishers and Broadcasters 

  • Consider who the potential third party advertisers are in your municipality, it may help you to identify those who may wish to register.

  • Consider the publishers and broadcasters in your area, draft a list of those that you may want to have a proactive communication with.  

  • Upon connecting with your local publishers and broadcasters, ensure they are aware of the changes for TPA’s and how as media outlets, they have certain obligations under the Municipal Elections Act with regard to third party advertising.  

In accordance with section 88.5(2), the broadcaster or publisher of any third party advertiser must provide the following information to you in writing: 

  • ​The name of the registered third party,
  • The name, business address and telephone number of the individual who deals with the broadcaster or publisher under the direction of the registered third party; and;
  • The municipality where the registered third party is registered.

In accordance with the Act, no broadcaster or publisher shall cause a third party advertisement to appear during the restricted period (see restricted period above) if the information set out above has not been provided.

In accordance with section 88.5 (4), the broadcaster or publisher of a third party advertisement shall maintain records containing the following information for a period of four years after the date the advertisement appears and shall permit the public to inspect the records during normal business hours:

  1. The information provided under subsection (2);

  2. A copy of the advertisement, or the means of reproducing it for inspection; and

  3. A statement of the charge made for its appearance.

Your Municipal Election Website 

You may wish to consider adding a third party section to your online election content. This will provide you with a space to include the registration form template, the guide or package for advertisers, a link to your sign by-law and the list of those who have registered as a third party advertiser. 

MPAC & Election Calendar Updates 

MPAC have been working with AMCTO to help provide updated information regarding their efforts in the coming election year ahead. See the table below for clarification on MPAC updates related to sections of the AMCTO Elections Calendar.  


Dates from the
Current AMCTO Election Calendar

MPAC Updates



In April - Municipal enumeration notices to be mailed by MPAC (mid-April to mid-May estimated time frame). 
June 4 Monday - Municipal enumeration forms to be returned to MPAC to ensure inclusion of electors on preliminary list of electors (PLE).

In the February-March time frame, MPAC will be launching in support of the 2018 Enumeration process, elector confirmations and changes obtained through this online service, coupled with all other source data MPAC receives/has access to (including the National Register of Electors, Ministry of Government Services (deceased persons) and elector information/changes captured in MPAC’s Property Assessment Database will be used to prepare the 2018 Preliminary List of Electors (PLE). online service will remain active through to the delivery of the PLE/VNF to a municipality or if a municipality opts, will continue running through to delivery of the September Exceptions files, and data-matching with the National Register of Electors, Ministry of Government Services (deceased persons) and extracts from our property assessment database will continue to occur to ensure that all MPAC-generated products are as up-to-date as possible to support the 2018 election process.

Sept. 15-25 - MPAC to provide exceptions list – update to PLE/VNF. (Note: Date TBD – traditionally three dates in mid-September).

In 2014, MPAC provided two dates in September (one early Sept. and one mid-late) for delivery of the Exceptions files – municipalities had the option to select one of these dates.   Although dates for the delivery of these files has not yet been determined, MPAC will most likely provide two delivery date options for these products in 2018.

The AMCTO Election Discussion Forum on our website is increasingly being used. Hiccups associated with file attachments have now been corrected and by logging into our site, you can access and participate in the forum by posting questions, responding, and attaching any materials or resources for others. This venue is for members to interact and discuss election administration matters ahead of the 2018 election. AMCTO Election Discussion Forum  

Just this past month; the Lanark County Clerks Manual was posted in a thread for others to utilize. Many will be familiar with the practice of sharing of samples and examples with their colleagues and peers. 

AMCTO Elections Manual Order Form 

For those wishing to obtain a copy of the 2018 Municipal Elections Training Manual; it is now available for purchase through the AMCTO website. Please click here to order the Manual today.  

For any other questions related to the Elections Manual ordering process, please feel free to contact Shivi Darubra at 905-602-4294 ext 228 or by email at  


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