Conservatives flout sign laws

Update (June 12): The City of Toronto has told Spacing that it does not intend to enforce the signs by-law as it pertains to video screens at gas stations because the current law, it says, needs to be clarified and harmonized across the city. A new signs by-law is in the process of development and the gas station video screen issue may be resolved within that process, the spokesperson said.

Update (5:50PM): The Conservative Party of Canada’s Ryan Sparrow has informed Spacing that the Conservative Party of Canada believes that the sole responsibility for advertising locations rests with the CPC advertising agency Fuelcast. When asked if the governing party feels a greater responsibility to ensure that it abides by the law because of its position of power, Sparrow repeated the above sentiment. After additional questions also resulted in the same answer, Spacing thanked Sparrow for his time.

Oh, the irony.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have tried over and over to brand itself the chief defender of law and order in this country. But yesterday, when it launched its latest round of attack ads on the Liberals, the Conservative Party used illegal advertising space to get its message out, according to the co-ordinator of IllegalSigns.ca.

The Conservatives didn’t just use a single illegal video screen to play the fiercely partisan advertisement. IllegalSigns.ca co-ordinator Rami Tabello told Spacing that every single screen that the spot is playing on at Toronto gas stations is illegal. According to media reports, gas station video screens are the primary vehicle for reaching Torontonians.

But gas station video screens are off limits.

In January, Councillor Howard Moscoe, with the help of IllegalSigns.ca, headed off an attempt by City of Toronto staff to legalize video screens at gas stations that have a total area that is no greater than 0.2 square meters (that’s the standard video screen size) without requiring a permit. Councillor Moscoe had the report that recommended legalization referred back to staff for more consideration and gave staff a directive to consult with public space activists.

To this point, City staff haven’t come back with another proposal so Tabello says they video screens have to be shut off.

Photograph by ItzaFineDay.

20 comments

  1. Most likely the Conservatives and/or the ad agency working for them approached the media company that runs these gas station pumps and asked for ad time for a campaign that targets drivers. They would reasonably assume that this ad company and the gas stations would be following local laws, as these gas station video screens are seen in many municipalities in Ontario. You should be getting mad at the ad company and the gas stations, not the advertisers. Illegalsigns.ca focuses on companies like Astral, CBS and MegaPoster, not the advertisers such as Nissan, Telus, etc. Why is this post suddenly shifting the focus to the advertisers? (answer: because you don’t like the political party)

    Seems like a cheap way to attack the Conservatives (just as bad as the ads 🙂 )

  2. Don’t you think a government should be more accountable to the people than a car or phone company? I do.

  3. Since the Tories have no MPs or MPPs in the 416 I suppose we have to expect ignorance in respect of what the by-laws are 🙂

  4. Peter — because Nissan and Telus don’t use “accountability” and “law and order” and etc rhetoric, this government does.

  5. No, I’d rather political parties deal with the issues rather then micromanage their outsourced ads.

  6. This government/party seems to be run by the most micro of micro managers, so as long as Harper is around, I think it’s fair.

  7. Update (5:50PM): The Conservative Party of Canada’s Ryan Sparrow has informed Spacing that the Conservative Party of Canada believes that the sole responsibility for advertising locations rests with the CPC advertising agency Fuelcast. When asked if the governing party feels a greater responsibility to ensure that it abides by the law because of its position of power, Sparrow repeated the above sentiment. After additional questions also resulted in the same answer, Spacing thanked Sparrow for his time.

  8. I think Fuelcast is the company that runs the ads on pumps, not the ad agency — it’s like the gas pump equivalent of Onestop (the TTC platform TV). The CPC’s media buyer is RMI — they would be responsible for placing the ads.

  9. So, we can expect posts like this for every advertiser who advertises with them, right?… or only when it’s the Tories?

  10. The only gas pumps that have ads that I’ve seen – anywhere – are Ontario Esso pumps (I’ve always avoided Esso when I ever had to buy gas for this, amongst many reasons).

    Now why Esso would install gas pumps that blast ads at customers when they could choose any other is beyond me – do people actually enjoy watching commercials? It never caught on anywhere else.

    At least from what I just heard, the company that does the ads at Esso pumps has rejected the ads – meaning just more of these dumb commercials on jock radio.

  11. I stopped at the Esso near my house one day when I was leaving the city, and that lovable Cam Wooley was yelling at me for something. It’s the most annoying thing, much like those urinal talking/video ads.

    Freddie> If we find any other party, or public institution doing this, we’ll post about it. Even a partisan supporter must see how the law and order rhetoric doesn’t mix so well.

  12. Is it really necessary for the city to regulate such things? Where is the line drawn? Are those ads on grocery carts regulated? What about T-shirts? The fact that this crap goes on while the city has spent nearly a generation without creating any new employment is sickening.

  13. Shawn> I’m sorry to point this out, but doesn’t your comment contradict itself?

    Unless Cam Wooley’s signed some sort of endorsement deal, his yelling would have been part of an Ontario Provincial Police ad, right? That’s a “public institution” as focused on “law and order” as you can get. Where was the “OPP flouts Toronto’s sign laws” post?

  14. Glen, until they have created their version of a utopian city, there is no line. They will keep coming back, finding something new to regulate or ban or require. Honestly, people cannot be trusted with their own lives. They’ll just end up fat, stupid, full of toxins and racist.

  15. Ha — I didn’t make the connection, because Cam Wooley almost seems like a media character, not a cop.

    “OPP flouts Toronto’s sign law” indeed. Perhaps it’s Fantino’s revenge.

  16. I was astonished to see those abhorrent ads when refueling at an Esso pump late last year. I avoid that Esso station now precisely because of this. Their loss.

  17. I like the ads at the pump. Something to watch instead of the price spinning on.

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