Condo access by election canvassers
At a time when more and more people in the GTA are living in condos,
our political candidates want to meet the residents, learn what issues are
important to them and try to win their votes come Election Day.
Yet, this needed human contact between politicial parties and the
public is becoming more difficult to accomplish as more condos
are being built. New owners and renters may have lived in their
downtown condos for less than a year, so canvassing can be harder than
in other neighbourhoods.
to get in
As reported in a CBC
Rosario Marchese stated: "You apply a variety of strategies to meet
renters and condo owners. There is constant movement of people which
makes it difficult for us and secondly, it's hard to get in.”
Progressive Conservative candidate Roberta Scott adds that the issues
for condo residents are the same as everyone else's: jobs, health care,
education and getting to work — the latter issue often seen as a
particular challenge in that riding. "It's by far the most popular
topic I hear at the door, transit, an express bus and also bike lanes."
The large turnover in residents every four to five years is a big
concern for political candidates but so is getting access into condo
corporations in order to talk to the voters and to drop off campaign
I talked to Soo Wong, Liberal MPP for Scarborough—Agincourt. Her
canvassers often have difficulty getting access into condos. The
managers may say that they need to get the boards’ permission before
they can come in or they say that the candidates have to phone ahead to
A different issue is that there isn’t a polling station at a new large
four-tower condominium complex just to the northeast corner of the 401
and Kennedy Road. Voters have to travel to distant school in order to
vote. Therefore 1300 voters do not have a polling station within the
distance guidelines mandated by Elections Ontario.
What is with condo managers and boards? Do they have something against
democratic elections? Here are a couple of recent postings that were
published on the Internet:
Political Office – Door Knocking Considerations
Campaigning politicians exercising
their right to campaign door-to-door in condominium buildings may not
be acting in their best interests.
Section 118 of the Condominium Act,
1998 says that: “No corporation or employee or agent of a corporation
shall restrict reasonable access to the property by candidates, or
their authorized representatives, for election to the House of Commons,
the Legislative Assembly or an office in a municipal government or
school board if access is necessary for the purpose of canvassing or
distributing election material“
Many condo residents prefer the
privacy that comes from not dealing with unsolicited door knockers.
They appreciate the protection they receive when uninvited guests are
prohibited from accessing their building and individual suites.
Campaigning politicians who exercise
their right for special treatment in this regard obtain the access they
desire but may damage their cause through this special treatment.
It may be more prudent for
campaigning politicians to respect the condo rules, not leave print
material, and seek more effective ways to campaign."
This was published in the June 2014 issue of Yonge-Sheppard Condominium News.
That article may have been influenced by an article published In
Condocentric.ca by Marc Bhalla who suggested:
“Rather than simply exercising a
legal right of entry in the course of canvassing, politicians may be
wise to consider each unique condominium community in their riding and
reach out to property management and/or the Board to determine the most
appropriate approach to connecting with the community. However,
there is not much time to do so with the provincial election a mere six
Calling election canvassers "uninvited guests" and suggesting that:
"campaigning politicians to respect the condo rules, not leave print
material, and seek more effective ways to campaign" shows a complete
disregard for political discourse and a disregard for democracy.
As reported in the Mississauga News, Dipika Damerla explains how she
won her re-election by such a large majority:
"Damerla credited her victory to good old-fashioned shoe-leather
campaigning. Over the last 30 months, she said — even as she tended to
routine constituency business — she estimated she knocked on 10,000
households — all with an eye to a sudden election call."
In a riding with dozens or even hundreds of condos, what candidate has
the time to work out that many individual arrangements with property
managers? What’s more, why are the managers and boards not calling the
candidate’s offices to invite their canvassers to come an visit and
suggest the best times to canvas the residents in their buildings?
Residential condo buildings are not monasteries, army barracks or
prisons where the residents want or need to be protected from all
Finally, what right does a manager or a board has to block or hinder
political canvassers from communicating with the voters? How else can
some of the residents going to learn how to get registered to vote or
learn where their polling station? How else will the disabled
learn that they may be able to vote from home?
I am talking to election canvassers and they tell me that sure there
are some condo residents who will not open the door when they knock and
others do not want to talk to them but that the percentage of negative
reactions from condo residents are no different than what they
experience when they go door-to-door in neighbourhoods of townhouses or
The narcissist that Marc writes about that pushes the elevator close
button when they hear a neighbour approaching so he does not have to
share the elevator and the director who freaks out because an owner
knocked on his door are not well suited to communal living and our
democratic condo corporations should not consider such anti-social
behaviour as normal.
What is the real problem here?
Can it be that the condo boards do not
want political parties canvassing in “their” buildings as they are
afraid that it may encourage candidates for the yearly AGM condo
to canvas their fellow owners for electoral support prior to condo
It is quite possible.
Overall voter turnout in Ontario provincial elections has been
declining for at least 25 years.
• 1990: 64.4% of eligible voters
• 1995: 62.9%
• 1999: 58.3%
• 2003: 56.8%
• 2007: 52.1%
• 2011: 48.2%
• 2014: 52.1%
Source: Elections Ontario
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