Definition of election advertising
Election advertising is the transmission, by any means, of an advertising message
to the public that:
i s transmitted during the period that begins 60 days before a campaign period and ends at the close of general voting for the election, and
promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party or the election of a candidate. This includes taking a position on an issue with which a candidate or registered political party is associated.
Important: The 60 day pre-campaign period only applies for a fixed date general election. For by-elections or non-fixed date general elections not conducted in accordance with section 23(2) of the Constitution Act, the 60 day pre-campaign period does not apply and the election advertising rules only apply to the campaign period itself.
The definition of election advertising is broad, and in some cases it can be difficult to determine if an item or activity is election advertising. Election advertising certainly includes signs, posters, leaflets, billboards, brochures, and advertisements in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and on television, radio,
and the internet.
What election advertising does not include Election advertising does not include:
news, an editorial, an interview, a column, a letter, a debate, a speech or a commentary published without charge in a bona fide periodical or on a radio or television program,
the distribution or promotion of a book for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made public regardless of whether there was to be an election,
documents sent by a person or a group directly to their members, employees or shareholders, or
the transmission by an individual of their personal political views, on a noncommercial basis on the internet, or by telephone or text messaging. Personal social networking pages and blogs are generally not election advertising, unless they are created to promote or oppose a candidate or a registered political
party, or the blogger is operating their site on a commercial basis. If they are, the sponsor of the content must be registered with Elections BC.
COMMITTEE A BLUES
TUESDAY, MARCH 13, 2012
Snip............D. Routley: The B.C. Liberals have made commitments in the past not to use government spending around elections. In fact, I think that former Premier Gordon Campbell committed to 120 days before an election, not to be spending government money advertising government.So it seems an important question for these estimates. Would the government communications and public engagement unit be involved in any advertising in Chilliwack or Port Moody in the coming months? If so, what advertising is planned?Hon. M. MacDiarmid: The previous question from the member opposite was with respect to government activity, and my answer to that question was that government will continue to do its work throughout the province, as is entirely appropriate.To the specific question about advertising, there are some government initiatives underway at the moment: the jobs plan that we've talked about, the education plan. Those advertising campaigns are province wide, and they're currently underway. So that's happening now, and that's happening in every part of the province.With respect to what would happen going forward, again, we would absolutely abide by all rules of Elections B.C. when it comes to any by-election or any election in the future.D. Routley: The promises of abiding by Elections B.C. rules from the current government are difficult to accept when now there have been very well-noted cases of failure to do just that in the recent provincial election and in the 2011 by-election in Point Grey. The previously public affairs bureau, the government communications and public engagement unit, was heavily involved in staging a cluster of announcements in the Point Grey constituency immediately before the by-election.There were complaints made to Elections B.C. There were letters written. There were questions asked, and it's a matter of public interest. It's something that the government has promised not to do.Leading up to the by-elections that are upcoming, it would be nice to know exactly what ad campaigns have been engaged. What ad campaigns have been contracted through this ministry over the next three months in the Chilliwack and Port Moody constituencies?Hon. M. MacDiarmid: Again, the province wide campaigns that I mentioned previously — the jobs plan and education plan advertising — are not specific to any riding. They are underway now. I'm not aware of any other…. There are no other advertising campaigns contemplated, and specific to those ridings, there are no advertising campaigns planned for those specific ridings that the member opposite has referenced.D. Routley: So we will not see the government communications and public engagement unit involved in staging, say, an opportunity for the Premier to masquerade as a coffee shop waitress in Chilliwack over the next couple of months, or a special announcement of funding for other constituencies to take place in those constituencies and arranged through public resources by the government communications and public engagement unit?Hon. M. MacDiarmid: The member's been talking about advertising and the advertising budget for GCPE and then talking about events and the work of government as if those things are interchangeable, and they very clearly aren't.With respect to advertising and the budget for advertising, I've talked about a couple of province wide campaigns that are underway. That information is going out to British Columbians right across the province.With respect to the work of government — events, with providing information about programs to British Columbians — that work will go on. There's no prohibition for the work of government to go on. The work of government does go on, regardless of where we are in the election cycle. I know the member opposite is aware of that.The specific rules from Elections B.C. about advertising clearly will be adhered to. We are aware of those rules, and they will be adhered to. But I do think it's important to distinguish between the work of government — events, providing information about programs — versus specific, targeted advertising.