An Ontario court orders the Doug Ford government to withdraw election ads

Editor’s note: Keep a look out for this entry on Race Canada’s list of potential election results. In a court filing, the PCs acknowledged that $326,000 in punitive advertising was worth it. “We were…

An Ontario court orders the Doug Ford government to withdraw election ads

Editor’s note: Keep a look out for this entry on Race Canada’s list of potential election results.

In a court filing, the PCs acknowledged that $326,000 in punitive advertising was worth it.

“We were able to do ‘uncompensated advertising’ and knock the Liberals out of the election cycle,” the filing states.

The party said $1.5 million in paid media still needs to be approved.

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PC campaign director Jennette Arnold said the party can’t release the full ad, citing privacy concerns.

“Basically what we went out and did is we had a limit on how much uncompensated advertising we could do… It wasn’t a cap on how much advertising we could do,” Arnold said.

The NDP also used the prohibition to goad the Tories into releasing full candidate profiles.

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“According to the judge, it would be inappropriate for the new PC government to limit what level of information Ontarians should be able to see about the candidates,” NDP nomination candidate David Dewar said in a statement.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in a statement: “The PCs’ discriminatory approach to campaigning is divisive and divisive when it comes to voting in the election. The judge’s ruling helps reinforce that. The PCs should call a new date for the election and drop the Tories’ divisive, misogynistic campaign of division.”

Volunteers, artists and other grassroots groups organized by Jim Morrissey, a former Ottawa city councillor, challenged the PC campaign’s $326,000 ad restriction, arguing it does not uphold democratic principles and encroaches on freedom of expression.

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The debate prompted a bid for a judicial review of the campaign policy, filed by advocates including B-Rock candidate Kate Hamm and canvasser Clare Hornby.

“The restrictions do not require that ad content be truthful or factual, yet they restrict the ability of these groups and individuals to know about who is in a given riding and run a campaign of communication not only within the riding but across Ontario,” the complaint states.

The judge rejected the challenge, saying the restrictions were not “veto power” and were not in violation of Ontario’s freedom of expression code, which prohibits restricting access to information that pertains to election campaigns.

“The judge was quite clear that the election rules are as much about preventing systematic and unfair targeting of an elected government as they are about ensuring that political parties and election contestants reflect our commonwealth,” Paul Siwicki, one of the interveners who argued on behalf of the groups, said in a statement.

What’s next?

Harris says an appeal may be in order.

Read the ruling here:

A preliminary injunction hearing is set for Dec. 10. A decision is expected at a later date.

Ontario election to be called on Dec. 1. Ballots will be counted from Dec. 10.

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