Burlington real estate appraiser and broker James Curran thinks incumbent councillors in his city get enough taxpayer supported free publicity to give them an unfair advantage in the upcoming election. He is challenging a recent order from the city of Burlington to take down election signs he had erected on the lawns of his own home as well as some friends and relatives. A city bylaw forbids putting up signs until 6 weeks before the election, but Curran thinks the by-law is unconstitutional and it appears he has the backing of the courts. Ruling on a similar case in Vaughan, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2007 granted PC provincial candidate Peter Shurman an injunction against the city of Vaughan which had ordered Shurman to comply with an election sign bylaw.
In Curran’s case he had organized a barbecue in June and invited supporters who were all set to put up approximately 300 signs; but the plan was thwarted when a Burlington By-Law manager advised Curran that posting the signs would be illegal. Curran thinks the restrictions tilt the scales even more for incumbents who he says already get a lot of taxpayer-supported free publicity.”They get four year’s worth of puff pieces in the City Wide magazine, and then again bi-weekly in the Burlington Post. We don’t know what this is costing us, but these self-serving articles are beyond ridiculous,” he said. He pointed to a recent Burlington Post notice posted by his Ward 6 opponent Blair Lancaster in which she thanked people for participating in a car-free Sunday event. “The city told me it was legal because it was posted before the July 1 cut-off date for councillors running ads in an election year,” Curran said, “but she already was a registered candidate. “Meanwhile they tell me I can’t put up signs.” He vows to try to end the taxpayer-funded free publicity if elected.
In the Vaughan ruling that overturned the election sign by-law, Justice Alexander Sosna wrote; “Any candidate in any election should be granted maximum flexibility to express his political views by all means available, including the erection of political signs.”
Written by: Carl Lafong