Federal Election Monday, September 20

FAQs – Election signs

Elections Canada frequently hears from Canadians who have questions about the rules for posting campaign signs and for displaying signs outside of an election period.

When are campaign signs allowed to be displayed?

The Canada Elections Act does not regulate or prohibit displaying campaign signs outside a federal election period. However, federal or provincial laws and municipal by-laws may regulate campaign signs placed on public or private property before or during an election period.

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Are there any rules about the content of campaign signs?

The Canada Elections Act does not regulate the content of campaign signs. However, all partisan and election advertising messages (including campaign signs) must contain a “tagline” stating who has authorized the message. A candidate's or political party's official agent must authorize candidate signs. If the advertising was placed by a third party, it must include the third party's name, telephone number, and physical or Internet address.

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My sign was destroyed/removed/stolen. What can I do?

Elections Canada has no jurisdiction to deal with signs that are destroyed, removed or stolen. You or the candidate may do the following:

  • Notify local police, as destruction of private property is a criminal offence; and/or
  • Send a complaint in writing to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, which is responsible for investigating offences such as the destruction of signs under the Canada Elections Act.

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Are campaign signs allowed inside a polling place?

Elections Canada is committed to creating a neutral area around the polls to help ensure the impartial administration of elections. We limit partisan material only as much as necessary to maintain the neutrality of all polling places. We recognize the importance of balancing this objective with the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Canada Elections Act prohibits posting or displaying any partisan material (including campaign signs) inside polling places. In practice, this means that partisan material cannot be posted or displayed in the room where the vote takes place, the hallways leading to the room, or in the entrance to the closest door. In many cases where there may be several entrances, or one from the parking lot and another from the sidewalk or bus stop, it also means that partisan material cannot be posted or displayed anywhere in or on the building where voting takes place, or on the property on which the building is located, including the parking lot.

For more information on this topic, see the interpretation note titled Posting and Displaying Partisan Material at Polling Places, published by Elections Canada in July 2019.

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Are there any exceptions to the rules for political signage in a polling place?

In some cases, it may be unreasonable for the prohibition to extend to an entire property. For example, polling stations may be located in university student centres, apartment or condominium buildings, and shopping centres. In those cases, partisan material may be allowed in one part of a building or property, even though a polling station is located in another part. Partisan material may be removed, however, from main pathways used by electors to enter the polling place.

The returning officer and other election officers will use their discretion to determine whether partisan material must be removed from a polling place.

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What are the rules for election signs on public property?

Section 325 of the Canada Elections Act states that, during an election period, no one may interfere with the transmission of election advertising such as a campaign sign.

However:

  • Government agencies may remove signs that do not respect federal or provincial laws and municipal by-laws after informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign that they plan to remove it.
  • If the sign is a safety hazard, government agencies may remove it without informing the person who authorized the posting of the sign.
  • Returning officers and other election officers may remove signs from public property where a polling place is located.

If you are not sure whether the sign is on private or public property, check with your municipality or other government agency.

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What about signs on private property, such as apartments and condominiums?

Election signs are allowed on private property.

Property owners do not have the right to prevent tenants from putting up election signs on the premises they lease in an apartment building during an election period. Condominium corporations do not have the right to prevent condo owners from putting up election signs on the units they own during an election period.

However, property owners and condominium corporations do have the right to set reasonable conditions on the size and type of sign and to prohibit signs in common areas, whether indoors or outdoors (see section 322 of the Canada Elections Act). The term "common areas" refers to an area or areas that may be used by all occupants of, and visitors to, a building (e.g. lobby, hallways, stairwells). It does not apply to areas that are part of the premises of the unit and not accessible to other building residents, such as balconies.

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Someone put a sign on my property without my permission. What can I do?

The Canada Elections Act does not affect the right of private residential property owners to control who enters their property or anything placed on it. If a sign has been placed on your private residential property without your permission, the Canada Elections Act does not prevent you from removing it. You may wish to contact the candidate or registered party whose sign it is to tell them you did not request the sign and to ask them to remove it.

If you are not sure whether the sign is on private or public property, check with the municipality or other government agency.

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How do I make a complaint about election signs?

To make a complaint or an allegation of wrongdoing about election signs displayed during a federal election, please write to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

How to make a complaint to the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

The Canada Elections Act does not regulate signs outside of an election, so the Commissioner does not accept complaints about the posting of election signs outside of an election period.