Green Party candidates told they can't advertise inside TTC, but only on the sides of buses
The Toronto Transit Commission ("TTC") is now refusing political advertising on subway platforms during the current federal election campaign. This represents an abrupt change of policy from previous elections.The Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2009 that public transit systems were subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. A ban on political ads on the sides of Vancouver buses was determined to be a violation of the freedom of expression. The TTC is complying with the court ruling to the extent of allowing ads on transit vehicles.
Green Party candidates in several Toronto ridings had been negotiating with TTC ad sales agents over the last month, and had already ordered artwork for posters conforming to specifications provided. They were shocked by the seeming arbitrariness of the decision, and questioned its timing.
"I'm disappointed." said Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu, the Green Party candidate in the riding of Toronto-Danforth currently held by Jack Layton. "There was a giant Layton poster with an NDP logo on the Broadview Station subway platform just days ago. Everyone knew an election was imminent. All I want is a fair opportunity to get my message out."
Ellen Michelson, the Green Party candidate for Toronto Centre, was similarly affected. "We can buy political advertising for transit vehicles, but those go all over the city", she noted. "Voters deserve the opportunity to learn about candidates in their own ridings. I would like to reach public transit travellers at the subway stops in Toronto Centre, and candidates in other ridings deserve no less."
"The TTC has permitted political ads on its subway platforms in previous elections", Andrew James, a legal writer and candidate for council last year in Toronto-Danforth, observed. "There is no principled difference between a political ad on a subway platform and a political ad on a bus. But there's a huge practical difference. If this decision stands, it undercuts the ideal of representative democracy by confirming the primacy of party branding over local candidates."
/For further information: Blog post:
Ad barred from TTC (hi res):
Jack Layton ad in TTC last week: