Legislation would limit third-party ads in next municipal election

·2 min read

With the next municipal elections set for Oct. 18, a bill introduced by Municipal Affairs minister Tracy Allard will limit third-party advertising during the upcoming campaign.

Bill 45, the Local Authorities Election Amendment Act, 2020 (No. 2), states advertising by third parties like corporations, groups, and individuals besides the candidates will be limited to $30,000.

“The majority of Albertans said loud and clear that there needs to be limits on election contributions,” said Justin Marshall, Municipal Affairs press secretary.

“There is (currently) no limit on third-party advertisers.”

Marshall said the UCP had specified the $30,000 figure as a limit in its election platform.

While there was previously no limit for third-party ad spending, advertisers had to register contributions of more than $1,000 with the municipality.

Rachel Wueschner, Sexsmith chief administrative officer (CAO), said no group or individual has registered a donation of that size during any recent campaign.

Likewise, Beaverlodge acting CAO Tina Letendre said she doesn’t believe any registrations were made in the past two elections.

According to County of Grande Prairie communications, registrations weren’t mandatory until 2018, after the 2017 election, accounting for a lack of data on such donations.

Bill 45 would also allow referendums and Senate nominee elections to occur along with municipal and school board elections, according to Municipal Affairs.

While the last two Senate elections were held during the 2004 and 2012 provincial elections, Marshall said Senate elections have been held in conjunction with municipal elections before, in 1989 and 1998.

A complication occurs under current legislation, with the Alberta Senate Election Act and Referendum Act setting votes for the third Monday in October.

In contrast, municipal elections generally also take place on the third Monday in October, but the Local Authorities Election Act allows municipalities to hold them during the preceding Saturday, according to Municipal Affairs.

Alberta currently has one vacancy in its six seats in the Canadian Senate.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News