A day after Elections Canada said landlords have the right to prevent tenants from putting up election signs in their apartment windows, the agency backtracked, saying tenants do have that right.
Elections Canada made the statements following a CBC News story about Marilyn Dumont, an Edmonton woman who said she received a letter from her landlord saying she would be evicted within 14 days if she didn't remove the sign from her apartment window by Wednesday.
"What I have is a signed letter from the landlord saying that I need to take the sign down and that we're not allowed to post signs inside or outside of the premises," she said.
The sign was for Linda Duncan, who is running for the NDP in Edmonton-Strathcona.
In Dumont's lease, there is a prohibition against placing advertisements in apartment windows.
"Yes I do rent a space. And yes I did sign a lease that says, you know, I couldn't put signs up for advertising. But I don't feel this is advertising," Dumont said. "It's an election, and it seems to me [it's] my democratic right to be able to express my opinion."
An Elections Canada spokesperson told CBC News Tuesday that conditions in leases allow landlords to prohibit tenants from displaying election signs.
But on Wednesday, CBC News was told by Elections Canada that information was incorrect. Section 322 (1) of the Canada Elections Act states that no landlord can prohibit tenants from displaying election advertising on the premises covered by their lease.
The act does contain "permitted restrictions" that allow landlords or condominium corporations to limit the size or type of election posters and to prohibit their display in common areas of buildings.
Stephen Jenuth, a lawyer and president of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association, agreed that any landlord who tried to put such a prohibition in a lease wouldn't have a case in court.
"Any [such] provision in condominium bylaws or agreement that a … lessor signs is simply void," Jenuth said.
Jenuth said an incident like this should be reported to the returning officer, who needs to alert the Commissioner of Canada Elections, who then decides whether the matter should be prosecuted.
Anyone found guilty of this offence could face a fine of not more than $1,000 or a maximum of three months in jail, Jenuth said.
Marilyn Dumont put her election sign back in her window Wednesday afternoon.
Dumont, who was originally told by Elections Canada she was in violation of her lease by displaying the sign, called the contradictory information aggravating.
"This has to be much clearer, especially for renters," she said Wednesday.