PURPOSE

The ‘Policy on Use of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Resources during an Election’ provides a consistent approach and direction to employees on how Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) resources can and cannot be used during municipal, school board, provincial and federal election campaigns or campaigns on question on a ballot.

BACKGROUND

Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (City of Toronto) employees may be approached by some candidates or supporters to use Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre resources for the purposes of campaigning. A clear policy is required to guide the action of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees and help determine which requests can be accommodated and which should be denied.

This policy mirrors the City of Toronto Policy on the Use of City Resources during an Election to ensure alignment with the permitted uses of City resources during an election.

The following legislative provisions bear highlighting as they relate to this policy:

The Municipal Elections Act, 1996, s. 70 (4), states that municipalities cannot make a contribution to a candidate or registrant in municipal election campaigns. The Election Finances Act and the Canada Elections Act impose similar restrictions for provincial and federal election campaigns.

The City of Toronto Act, 2006 defines the role of the Mayor as both the Head of Council and as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the City. As CEO of the City, it is the role of the Mayor to promote public involvement in the City’s activities and act as the representative of the City locally, nationally and internationally.

DEFINITIONS

“Campaigning” – means any activity by or on behalf of a candidate, political party or question on a ballot meant to elicit support during the election period. Campaigning does not include the appearance of elected officials, other candidates or their supporters, or registrants at an event in their personal capacity without the display of any signage or graphic which identifies the individual as a candidate or registrant and without the solicitation of votes.

“Campaign Materials” – means any materials used to solicit votes for a candidate(s) or question in an election including but not limited to literature, banners, posters, pictures, buttons, clothing, or other paraphernalia. Campaign materials include materials in all media, for example, print, displays, electronic radio or television, online including websites or social media.

“Candidate” – means any person who has filed and not withdrawn a nomination for an elected office at the municipal, school board, provincial or federal level in an election or by-election.

“Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Resources” – includes but is not limited to WNC employees, events, facilities, funds, information and infrastructure. These are further defined as follows:

  • “Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (City of Toronto) employees” – for the purpose of this policy, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees include all non-union management and exempt employees, , and all members of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre bargaining units.
  • “Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events” – means events funded or organized by the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, including events that may be jointly organized with community organizations and/or with external sponsors. Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events include, but are not limited to: community meetings and consultations, recreation or cultural events or celebrations, special events and program events.
  • “WNC facilities”– means the property known as the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre managed by the Board of the Directors.
  • “WNC funds” – means funding through Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre’s operating or capital budgets, including but not limited to funds provided directly to Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre programs and services.

Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre (formallery Harbourfront Community Centre) is a City grant recipient. The City of Toronto’s Community Partnership and Investment Program (CPIP) maintains a ‘Policy on Political Activities’ which governs the behaviour of grant recipients. Grant recipients are not permitted to endorse or support a particular candidate or political party in programs that are funded by the City.

  • “WNC information” – means any information in the custody and control of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre, including databases that may be the repository of names, contact information, business records, financial information or other identifiers compiled and used by Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees to conduct Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre business. Examples of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre databases include lists of event attendees and membership lists.
  • “Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre infrastructure” – means any physical or technology systems that support the operation of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre programs and services, including but not limited to Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre fleet vehicles, computer network, telecommunications and e-mail system, wireless equipment, computer hardware, software and peripherals, internet and intranet. Excludes public right-of-way including sidewalks, roads, laneways and boulevards.

“Contribution” – as defined in the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, as amended means “money, goods and services given to and accepted by or on behalf of a person for his or her election campaign”.

“Election” – means an election or by-election at the municipal, school board, provincial and federal level of government, or the submission of a question or by-law to the electors.

“Election Period” – means the official campaign period of an election.

  • For a municipal or school board election, the election period commences on the first Monday of January of an election year and ends on voting day.
  • For a provincial or federal election, the election period commences the day the writ for the election is issued and ends on voting day.
  • For a question on the ballot, the period commences the day City Council passes a by-law to put a question to the electorate, and ends on voting day.
  • For a by-election, the period commences when the by-election is called and ends on voting day.

“Elected Official” – means an individual elected to the House of Commons, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, Toronto City Council or a School Board.

“Glad-handing” – means attending an event as a private individual and interacting with other event attendees without displaying signage or disseminating material which identifies the individual as a candidate and without encouraging votes for a candidate, a political party or a position on a question on a ballot.

“Media Event” – means an event such as a press conference or photo opportunity to which the media is invited. Features of a Media Event can include but are not limited to, the issuing of a media advisory stating date, time and location of briefing/press conference, use of backdrops, podiums or public address systems, the distribution of media releases and/or media kits and/or the display of signage and/or other materials.

“Media Scrum” – means an unplanned encounter between a candidate, a registrant, their staff and/or a member or members of the media.

“Member of Council” – means the Mayor and the 44 City Councillors, except where the Mayor acts as the Chief Executive Officer of the City.

“New/Social Media” – means online technologies and practices used to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives through words, pictures, music, videos and audio. Social media can take many different forms, including but not limited to internet forums, web logs (blogs), social blogs, messaging, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, music sharing, rating and bookmarking.

“Political Party” – Political parties for provincial and federal elections are those registered with the Ontario Election Finances Act or in the registry of parties referred to in section 374 of the Canada Elections Act. Political party for municipal, school board or question on a ballot means an organization whose fundamental purposes is to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election, or to promote the acceptance of a certain position on a question on a ballot.

“Question on a Ballot” – means any question or by-law submitted to the electors by Council, a School Board, an elected local board, or the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

“Registrant” – means an individual, corporation or trade union described in paragraphs 1 to 3 of subsection 70(3) who has registered with the clerk regarding a question on a ballot under the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

“Supporter” – means a supporter of a yes or no response to a question on a ballot but not incurring expenses like a registrant.

“Voting Day” – means the day on which the final vote is to be taken in an election.

Terms which are defined above are shown in bold in the body of the policy.

PRINCIPLES

Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre as an agency of the City of Toronto must balance the need for freedom of expression and assembly of candidates and its legal responsibility to not provide an unfair advantage to any candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.

Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre cannot make a contribution (including money, goods and services) to any candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.

Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre resources cannot be used to promote one candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election over another candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.

This policy is intended to enable continued public and media access to candidates or registrants for information and interviews. The policy distinguishes between unplanned media scrums or chance public encounters by candidates and the media, whether in-person or online and actual planned media events or rallies.

The policy recognizes that Members of Council are holders of their office until the end of their term and supports Members in continuing to fulfill their responsibilities as Members of Council.

SCOPE

This policy applies to Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre as an agency of the City of Toronto.

POLICY

Activities Allowable during an Election

  • All-candidate meetings can be held at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities for $1.00 fee provided that all candidates for an office or all registrants are invited to attend such meetings. This clause is subject to all applicable City by-laws and policies and Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre’s Space Use Policies.
  • Candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election are permitted to distribute campaign materials on public right of way sidewalks and thoroughfares, at public parks, and at civic squares such as Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, Albert Campbell Square and David Pecaut Square subject to the existing permitting policies and by-laws for these facilities.
  • Informal media scrums are permitted in public or common areas at the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre which is a City facility provided that no apparatus, mechanism or device for the amplification of the human voice or any sounds is used and that the activity is not disruptive to regular Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre business in the vicinity. If the media scrum is disruptive, employees may ask the participants to find an alternative location.
    This clause is subject to all applicable City by-laws and policies and Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre’s Space Use Policy.
  • Candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election are permitted to attend Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events, or events held at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities, in either their capacity as elected representatives or as private citizens to glad-hand with attendees and visitors, but may not solicit votes for themselves, a political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot. No election signs may be posted and no campaign materials may be disseminated at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events. This clause is subject to all applicable City by-laws and policies and Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Space Use Policy.
  • Permits for generic election-related purposes, such as teaching members of the public how to become a candidate or the knowledge to organize an election campaign, can be issued for Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities as long as no one particular candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election is promoted or endorsed at the event.
  • Elected officials are permitted to attend WNC-organized events or events held on WNC property and act as ceremonial participants in their capacity as elected officials, including speaking at the event and partaking in ceremonial activities. Once the writ is issued for Provincial or Federal elections, MPPs and MPs are no longer elected officials and therefore should not be invited to attend Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events.
  • The Mayor will continue to be named in media releases and Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre materials that describe inter-governmental activities in his capacity as Chief Executive Officer of the City.
  • WNC online information related to Members will continue to be accessible by the public.
  • WNC databases already made available for public use may be used by candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees may work on a campaign or support a candidate outside of their work hours, as long as they abide by the Human Resources policy titled “Employee Participation in Municipal Election Campaigns” which defines permitted campaign The policy also prohibits certain employees from participating in any campaign activity.
  • Information that is provided by Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees to one candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election will be provided to all other candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election, either through posting of the information on the internet or through other mechanisms.
  • Requests by candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election for personal meetings with Executive Director, or other Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees, and requests for tours of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities may not always be accommodated due to resource and time constraints. If a meeting or a tour is organized for one candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election, WNC would need to commit to organizing a similar meeting or tour for all other candidates, political parties, registrants or supporters of a question on a ballot during an election.

Activities Not Allowable during an Election

  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre resources may not be used to support, endorse or otherwise provide an unfair advantage to any candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees may not campaign or actively work in support of a municipal, school board, provincial or federal candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election during working hours unless they are on a leave of absence without pay, lieu time, float day or vacation leave.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities and infrastructure cannot be used for any election-related purposes by candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election, including for the display of any campaign-related signs in windows or on the facilities, as well as for any other form of campaigning on the facilities, except as described in section A of this policy.
  • No permits, licenses, leases, or any other agreement for the use of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities will be issued for the use or promotion of a particular candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election
  • Any Candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election shall not distribute any campaign materials in Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre facilities or at Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre events, except on public right-of ways, thoroughfares, in City parks and on City civic squares or during all-candidates meetings.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre communications materials, whether for internal or public distribution, must not:
    • Profile (name or photograph), make reference to and/or identify any individual as a candidate in any election or a registrant in a question on a ballot.
    • Advocate for or against a particular candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.

    Communications materials include but are not limited to: media releases, media advisories, invitations for special events, flyers, posters, banners, brochures and newsletters.

  • Websites or domain names that are funded by the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre must not include any campaign materials, make reference to and/or identify any individual as a candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election, or profile any slogan or symbol associated with a candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.
  • New/Social media sites, blogs, and other new media created and managed by Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees must not make reference to and/or identify any individual as a candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election.
  • Photographic or video materials which have been or may be created by Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees or with Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre resources must not be used in any campaign materials.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre or the City of Toronto logo must not be used in any campaign materials.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre databases must not be used by any candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election, unless the database has already been released for public use.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre infrastructure cannot be used for any election.
  • Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees will not perform any service, offer any advice or provide any information solely for the use of one candidate, political party, registrant or a supporter of a question on a ballot during an election under section 39.1 of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.

Restrictions related to Services Provided to Members of Council during an Election Year

As Members of Council may also be candidates in a municipal election, after August 1 in the municipal election year, Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees will discontinue the following activities for Members of Council. The same rule applies to all Members of Council, irrespective of whether they are seeking election in the new term or not:

  • Advertising and other communications materials paid for by Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre funds and distributed by WNC will not reference the name of a Member of Council.
  • Event signage, including banners and posters, will not reference the name of a Member of Council.
  • Media releases issued by WNC employees will not reference the name of a Member of Council.
  • WNC will not distribute media releases on behalf of any Member of Council unless such a release is considered to be consistent with their duties as an elected official.

RELATED POLICES AND PROCEDURES

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Executive Director of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre is responsible for the application of this policy to Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre resources, facilities and employees managed under the authority of the Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre Board of Management as an agency of the City of Toronto.

WNC Employees: Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre employees are responsible for understanding and applying this policy and for seeking clarification and advice if required.

CONTACT

Employees of Waterfront Neighbourhood Centre should contact their Supervisor/Manager for guidance on this policy.