It's an election year in Canada and that means that soon enough our TV, radio, and social media will be flooded with election campaign ads from all of Canada's biggest political parties. In those ads, you're likely to see some personal jabs directed at the leaders as well as all parties boasting about their platform promises. What you hope to not see are lies, but unfortunately, a Canadian Ad Standards exclusion legally allows politicians to lie in the election campaigns.
The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards is a set of guidelines put in place to regulate any ads in Canada, including online advertising. The code is from Ad Standards-Canada, a non-profit regulating body that's in place to ensure truth in advertising. Their three priorities when it comes to ads are truth, fairness, and accuracy.
Oddly enough though, the ad standards code has some major exemptions that specifically pertain to politicians in Canada. On the exclusions page, the code says: "Canadians are entitled to expect that “political advertising” and “election advertising” will respect the standards articulated in the Code."
The code goes on to say, "however, it is not intended that the Code govern or restrict the free expression of public opinion or ideas through “political advertising” or “election advertising”, which are excluded from the application of this Code."
That means that in their election ad campaigns, Canadian politicians aren't required to follow standards that protect truth, fairness, and accuracy. When it comes to politics, it looks like all of those traits go out the window.
This is especially concerning given that this is the first Canadian federal election since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. That means this is our first federal election since the term "Fake News" actually became a thing.
So given that there are no legal regulations forcing politicians to tell the truth, Canadians will need to be diligent and do our homework heading into the upcoming election campaign.
As the code states, Canadians are entitled to expect politicians to respect the ad standards of truth, fairness, and accuracy, but since it's not legally binding, we can only hope.