Policies & Procedures

 

Our policies and procedures govern how we effectively fulfill our mandate to administer municipal elections, by-elections and referenda and ensure a fair, transparent, accessible and inclusive election process.

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Purpose

This Policy establishes rules around the use of City of Markham funds, services, equipment, facilities, personnel, and other municipal corporate resources during an Election period to maintain the non-partisan and transparent operation of the municipal administration. This Policy is designed to achieve the City’s compliance with the legislated requirements contained in the Municipal Elections Act, Council Code of Conduct, and other applicable legislation and corporate policies. This Policy should be interpreted as a general prohibition against the use of municipal corporate resources for any Election-Related purpose.

Nothing in this Policy is intended to preclude a Councillor from performing their legislated duties or representing the interests of their constituents as an elected official for their full term of office.

 

Applicability & Scope

This Policy applies to Councillors, City Staff (including City Volunteers and other persons acting on behalf of the City), Candidates, Registered Third Parties, and campaign staff in a local municipal, regional municipal, school board, provincial, federal, or political party Election.

 

Background

The Municipal Elections Act prohibits municipalities from contributing resources to Candidates in a municipal or school board Election on the basis that use of these resources would provide an unfair advantage to those Candidates who are able to access them. The Canada Elections Act and Election Finances Act impose similar restrictions on municipalities for federal and provincial Elections.

Municipal corporate resources include (but are not limited to) Councillor discretionary budgets; City facilities and equipment; City Staff, City Volunteers, and representatives acting on behalf of the City; City-funded programs and services; City-funded communications (i.e., material sponsored, printed, and/or distributed by the City); the City's corporate logo, affiliate logos, and corporate program logos; City websites and domain names; the City's computer networks and related information technology systems; and personal and confidential information acquired in one’s capacity as an elected official, employee, or representative of the City.

All applicable parties and stakeholders are responsible for following the protocols outlined in this Policy to support a fair and transparent Election process.

 

Definitions

  • ‘Affiliate’ means any entity that is (in whole or in part) created, owned, controlled, operated, and/or supported by the City, including its subsidiaries, local boards, and foundations.
  • ‘Candidate’ means any person who has filed the prescribed nomination form to run in a municipal, regional, school board, provincial or federal election or by-election or for a position in a political party.
  • ‘Campaigning’ means any election-related activity for the purpose of supporting or opposing the Election of a Candidate or a question on the ballot, and includes, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the production and distribution of materials (paper and electronic), advertising (including any form of electronic advertising), any form of promotion (including by means of social media), display of signage, etc.
  • ‘City’ means The Corporation of the City of Markham.
  • ’City Staff’ means individuals who are hired on a temporary, part-time, contract, or permanent basis by the City, and who receive financial payment from the City for their employment.
  • ‘City Volunteer’ means an individual who performs duties on behalf of Councillors or the City and who does not receive financial payment from the City for their work as a volunteer.
  • ‘City Clerk’ means the City Clerk and Returning Officer of the City.
  • ‘Council’ means the Council of the City.
  • ‘Councillor’ means a member of Markham City Council.
  • ‘Discretionary Expense’ means an expense that is incurred by an individual Councillor and is charged to an individual Councillor’s discretionary account.  The responsibility for determining the appropriateness of a Discretionary Expense rests with the individual Councillor
  • ‘Election’ means an election or by-election at the municipal, school board, regional, provincial, or federal level of government, political party nomination or leadership contest, or the submission of a question or by-law to voters.
  • ‘Election Period’ means the official campaign period of a municipal, regional, provincial, or federal election or by-election, or political party contest as  defined in the applicable electoral legislation.
  • ‘Election-Related’ means anything that relates directly to an election.
  •  ‘Newsletter’ means a printed or electronic publication produced and distributed by or on behalf of a Councillor (and using City Resources) to provide information to constituents.
  • ‘Nomination Day’ means the date in a regular election or a by-election (as defined by municipal, provincial, or federal legislation) when nominations for office close. 
  • ‘Nomination Period’ is the period of time between the opening of nominations and Nomination Day in a regular election or by-election (as defined by the applicable municipal, provincial, or federal legislation).
  • ‘Opening of Nominations’ means the first date in a regular election or by-election (as defined by the applicable municipal, provincial, or federal legislation) when nominations for office can be filed.
  • ‘Registered Third Party’ means an individual, corporation, or other entity engaging in election-related activities as defined by the applicable municipal, provincial, or federal legislation.
  • ‘Voting Day’ means the final day in which voting takes place in the applicable election.

 

Policy Statements

  1. General

    • 1.1: Pursuant to the Act, the City will not make a contribution, including money, goods and services, to any Candidate, Registered Third Party, or a supporter of a question on the ballot during an Election.
    • 1.2: Candidates will not use corporate resources (including City communication resources) for Election
    • 1.3: City Staff will not work in support of a Candidate during their normal working hours, unless they are on a leave of absence without pay, lieu time, float day, or vacation leave.
    • 1.4: City Staff will not use corporate resources, including City communication resources, for the purpose of Campaigning for, or assisting in the campaign, of a Councillor(s) and/or Candidate(s).
    • 1.5: Councillors who are also Candidates shall comply with the Council Code of Conduct, including but not limited to sections 9, 12 and 13, and shall not use their influence to compel staff to assist in the campaign of a Councillor.
    • 1.6: Candidates will not undertake any Election-Related activities or Campaigning in the workplace.
    • 1.7: Candidates will not undertake any Election-Related activities or Campaigning on any City property unless permitted under Section 2 of this policy.
    • 1.8: City Staff will not canvass, or work in support of, a Candidate or political party while wearing a City uniform, badge, crest, or other item identifying them as City Staff, or while using a City-owned/leased vehicle.
    • 1.9: Candidates are prohibited from including the City’s corporate, Affiliate, and program logos; the City’s coat of arms; and City slogans on any Election-Related materials or related websites, except in the case of a link to the City’s website to obtain information about the municipal Election.
    • 1.10: Councillors and City Staff will not use any City printers and/or photocopiers or paper to produce Election-Related Once a Councillor has registered as a Candidate, their printing and/or photocopying levels shall not exceed the monthly average from the previous year as determined by the City Clerk.
    • 1.11: Candidates are prohibited from using any photographs produced for and owned by the City for any Election-Related purposes, unless prior permission is granted by the City Clerk.
    • 1.12: Councillors are responsible for ensuring that any communication material, including printed materials such as Newsletters, advertising etc. funded by the City, do not contain any Election-Related
    • 1.13: Links to any personal or Election websites, or social media sites will be removed from the City owned website after a Candidate has filed his or her nomination papers, except where deemed appropriate by the City Clerk for the purpose of promoting awareness of the Election to voters.

  2. Campaign Activities at City-Owned and/or City-Operated Facilities

    • 2.1: Candidates and Registered Third Parties will not display any Election-Related material or undertake any Campaigning at City facilities, except under the following circumstances:
      • 2.1.1: The facility is a City-owned long-term care facility, in accordance with the Long Term Care Act, 2007.
      • 2.1.2: Candidates may use any City owned facility that provides for public rentals, with the exception of the Civic Centre, provided the application process for use of the facility is followed, and that all applicable fees for use of the facility are paid.
      • 2.1.3: Candidates and Registered Third Parties will set up and remove all Election-Related material, including but not limited to, signs, posters, and other campaign material within the allotted rental period; and,
      • 2.1.4: Election-Related material will only be displayed within the rented area designated within the rental agreement.
    • 2.2: Candidates and Registered Third Parties are not permitted to use the Civic Centre to undertake any Election Related activities or Campaigning.
    • 2.3: Candidates and Registered Third Parties are not permitted to rent City facilities for Election-Related activities or Campaigning while there is a Voter Assistance Centre or voting Location operating out of the facility.

  3. Rules for Councillors during an Election Period

    • 3.1: Constituent information (including email and mailing addresses) collected by Councillors as part of their constituent communications will not be used for Election
    • 3.2: The budgets for Councillors in a municipal Election year will be restricted to 10.5/12ths of the approved annual discretionary budget amount with the provision that:
      • 3.2.1: Councillors are restricted to 6/12ths (or 50%) of their discretionary budget from January 1 until May 1.
      • 3.2.2: Newly elected Councillors are allocated a budget equal to 1.5/12ths of the approved discretionary budget amount for the last two weeks of November and the month of December.
      • 3.2.3: Re-elected Councillors will have access to the remainder of the year’s approved discretionary budget the day after Voting Day.
    • 3.3: The budgets for the Mayor and Councillors seeking provincial or federal Election will be prorated based on the month the Election
    • 3.4: Councillors are limited to one Newsletter in a municipal Election year and Regional Councillors receive half of their allotted annual budget for Newsletters in a municipal Election Councillor Newsletters must be produced and distributed to Canada Post before May 1. Regional Councillor Newsletters must appear in the publication before May 1 in a municipal Election.
    • 3.5: The following will be discontinued as of May 1 in a municipal Election year for all Councillors until the day after Voting Day
      • 3.5.1: Ward-wide communications, unless specifically authorized by Council;
      • 3.5.2: All forms of advertising, including municipal publications;
      • 3.5.3: All printing or high speed photocopying and distribution of such materials;
      • 3.5.4: The ordering of stationery; and,
      • 3.5.5: The ordering or moving of office furniture and furnishings, except those of an emergency nature.
    • 3.6: The services identified under Section 3.5 of this Policy will be re-instated after Nomination Day for Councillors who have not registered as a Candidate.
    • 3.7: Councillors and Candidates will not:
      • 3.7.1: Print or distribute any material paid for with City funds (or produced with the use of City owned equipment, resources or facilities) that makes reference to any other Councillor or individual who is a Candidate in an Election;
      • 3.7.2: Print or distribute any material paid for with City funds (or produced with the use of City owned equipment, resources or facilities) that identifies that a Councillor or any other individual will be running in an Election;
      • 3.7.3: Use the City’s voice mail system to record Election-Related messages;
      • 3.7.4: Include any Election-Related material on websites or domain names that are paid for by the City;
      • 3.7.5: Use mobile communication devices, including but not limited to smartphones, cell phones (including Bring Your Own Device and tablets), that are paid for by the City for any Election-Related purpose or Campaigning, unless the City is reimbursed;
      • 3.7.6: Use the services of any City Staff to assist in any communication activity related to the preparation or distribution of campaign materials or events or enable a City Staff to undertake any Election-Related activities that is prohibited in this policy on behalf of the Councillor or Candidate; and,
      • 3.7.7: Hold a ward or community meeting between May 1 and Voting Day in a municipal Election year, unless authorized by Council.

 

Roles & Responsibilities

The Legislative Services and Corporate Communications Department is responsible for reviewing this Policy as appropriate. All Councillors, City Staff, City Volunteers, Candidates, Registered Third Parties and campaign staff are responsible for adhering to this Policy. 

Should a complaint arise regarding the alleged use of corporate resources in contravention of this Policy, the City Clerk or their designate shall have the authority to investigate and resolve the complaint.  If a breach of this Policy is confirmed, the applicable Councillor, City Staff person, City Volunteer, Candidate, Registered Third Party, or campaign staff person will be required to personally repay any of the costs associated with the breach.  In addition to repayment resulting from a breach of this Policy, Councillors and/or City staff could be subject to an investigation under the applicable Council Code of Conduct or Staff Code of Ethics and Conduct.

 

Purpose

This Policy establishes guidelines for the placement of Paid Advertisements and Corporate Sponsorships with the City in an Election period to ensure compliance with City policies, the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, (“MEA”), and other applicable federal and provincial legislation.

Applicability & Scope

This Policy applies to anyone purchasing a Paid Advertisement or Corporate Sponsorships with the City during an Election Period.

 

Background

The MEA requires municipalities in Ontario to establish rules and procedures for the use of municipal resources during an Election Period. The MEA prohibits municipalities from contributing resources to Candidates and Third Party Advertisers in a municipal or school board Election on the basis that the use of these resources might confer an actual or perceived advantage to those who are able to access them. The Canada Elections Act and Election Finances Act impose similar restrictions on municipalities for federal and provincial Elections.

Municipal resources include (but are not limited) to City facilities, equipment, assets, communications, and publications.

 

Definitions

  • 'Candidate' means any person who has filed the prescribed nomination form to run in a municipal, regional, school board, provincial or federal election (or by-election), or for a position in a political party.
  • 'City' means The Corporation of the City of Markham.
  • 'Clerk' means the City Clerk and Returning Officer of the City.
  • 'Corporate Sponsorship' means financial or in-kind support by an entity for a City facility, asset, program, service, initiative and/or event in exchange for recognition by the City.
  • 'Election' means an election or by-election for a (local or regional) municipal, school board, provincial, or federal government body, a political party nomination or leadership contest, or the submission of a question or by-law to voters.
  • 'Election Period' means the official campaign period of a (local or regional) municipal, school board, provincial, or federal election (or by-election), political party contest, or referendum as defined in the applicable electoral legislation.
  • 'Election Related' means anything that relates directly or indirectly to an Election.
  • 'Third Party Advertiser' means an individual, corporation, trade union, or other entity within the meaning of the applicable electoral legislation that causes an election campaign advertisement to appear.
  • 'Third Party Advertisement' means a political advertisement in any broadcast, print, electronic or other medium that has the purpose of promoting, supporting or opposing a Candidate, political party, a “yes” or “no” answer to a question on the ballot, or any other regulated content as defined by the applicable electoral legislation.
  • 'Paid Advertisement' means a printed or electronic advertisement produced and/ distributed by the City or located in or on City property.

 

Policy Statements

  1. General

    • 1.1: The City does not accept any Election-Related advertisements of any kind, paid or otherwise, in any City publication or located within any City property (e.g., assets, rink boards, backlit signage, posters or other advertisements).
    • 1.2: The City does not accept Corporate Sponsorships of any kind (financial or in-kind) by Candidates or Third Party Advertisers during an Election Period.
    • 1.3: During an Election Period, the following advertisement design criteria apply to all Paid Advertisements:
      • 1.3.1: They cannot be primarily focused on promoting an individual person; and,
      • 1.3.2: They cannot feature an individuals' name and/or picture such that it represents more than 25% of the advertisement.
      • 1.3.3: They cannot include a tag line, email address, website URL or QR code that is Election Related or could be reasonably perceived as being Election Related.
    • 1.4: Paid Advertisements are removed by the City if they are deemed to be Election-Related by the Clerk.
      • 1.4.1: If a Paid Advertisement is purchased before a person registers as a Candidate, it will be removed without refund once the person registers.
      • 1.4.2: If a Paid Advertisement is purchased before a person, trade union or corporation registers as a Third Party Advertiser, it will be removed without refund once the person or entity registers.
    • 1.5: Corporate Sponsorships will be cancelled by the Clerk if the sponsor registers as a Candidate or Third Party Advertiser in an Election.

 

Roles & Responsibilities

The Legislative Services and Corporate Communications Department is responsible for reviewing this Policy as appropriate. Should a complaint arise regarding a contravention of this Policy, the Clerk or their designate shall have the authority to investigate and resolve the complaint to their satisfaction.

Elections Markham
Markham Civic Centre
101 Town Centre Boulevard
Markham, Ontario, L3R 9W3
905.477.7000 x8683 (VOTE)
vote@markham.ca

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