Election Advertising, Campaign Signage, and Third-Party Advertising
What is Election Advertising?
All advertising, by candidates, parties or third parties, which promotes or opposes any candidate or registered party or takes a position on an issue with which a candidate or registered party is associated, is considered election advertising during a provincial general election or by-election.
During a provincial general election, knowingly spreading false statements about a candidate’s character or conduct during an election is an offence under the Elections Act.
A federal Member of Parliament (MP) may provide support to a provincial candidate or registered political party during a provincial election as long as the registered political party or a third party does not pay for the production or delivery provided by the MP.
Before an election call
The Elections Act does not restrict campaign signs and election advertising prior to the writ period. Candidates may campaign through door-to-door or public events anytime, and signs may be erected, provided they meet municipal bylaws or provincial transportation regulations.
During an election
When writs of election are issued for a provincial general election or a by-election, the Elections Act requires an authorization statement on all signs and advertising, including print, broadcast and online. The statement must be legible and state the following: “Authorized by the Official Agent for [name of candidate, registered party, individual, organization].”
The Elections Act allows a tenant or owner in a multiple-unit residence or a condominium residence to post election signs on their own property. The size and type of poster may be subject to reasonable regulation by the landlord or condominium corporation.
On Election Day
legislation requiring an advertising blackout on election day was repealed in 2016. However, the Act still prohibits certain advertising and other activities during the hours of voting on election day.
The following rules are set out for election advertising on election day in the Elections Act:
- Parades or demonstrations: No parades or demonstrations supporting a candidate or political party may be held during the hours of polling on election day or during an advance poll. Use of a loud speaker, public address system, flag or banner to support a candidate or political party is also prohibited.
- Display of buttons or emblems: It is prohibited to carry or wear any flag, ribbon, emblem badge or button with the intent that it be used to distinguish the user as a supporter of a candidate or registered party, within or on the exterior surface of a building in which a polling station is located. The objective of this provision is to ensure that no partisan materials are brought inside the polling station.
Election Advertising Interpretation Circular
The following circular provides Elections Nova Scotia’s position on election advertising. It was revised in July 2021 for the 41st provincial general election.
Election Advertising Interpretation Circular 16-02, November 30, 2016 (updated: July 2021 for the 41st provincial general election)
Municipal Requirements and Transportation Regulations
The placement of election signs is also subject to provincial and municipal laws and regulations. Municipal rules may vary; please check with the municipal authority in your area if you have concerns. In the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), people with questions about the placement of election signs can call 311.
Areas along highways, including some within municipalities, are managed by the Department of Transportation and Active Transit. People who have questions about signs along highways may call a toll-free number 1-844-696-7737 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Third Party Election Advertising
According to the Elections Act, a third party is an individual or group that is not a candidate, registered political party, or registered electoral district association. A third-party election advertisement is a message that promotes or opposes a registered political party, the election of a certain candidate, or, a candidate's position on an issue within the election period, i.e., from the day the writ of election is issued through election day.
A third-party advertisement can be for radio, television, newspaper, the internet, or any other type of media. Campaign buttons, clothing, or other items that identify the users as supporters or opponents of any recognized party, candidate or associated issue can also be types of third-party advertising.
Once a third party spends $500 or more on election advertising, they are required by the Elections Act to register with Elections Nova Scotia within seven days. Once the writs of election are issued, third party advertising rules require that the third party identifies itself and it has authorized the advertising. There are limits to how much money can be spent by third parties during the election.
Please click here for more information on third-party election advertising , including a Q&A and background pamphlet.