Elections Nova Scotia announced today that it has entered into a compliance agreement with the Executive Director and the Chair of the Nova Scotia Liberal Caucus (the “Caucus“), after they acknowledged that the Caucus had contravened sections 272, 275(4) and 277 of the Election Act (Nova Scotia).
The Caucus distributed an election advertising flyer in the electoral districts of Dartmouth South, Sydney-Whitney Pier and Cape Breton Centre on May 19, 2015, which was during by-elections in the three districts. The total cost of the advertising was $7,100.74.
Section 272 prohibits conducting election advertising using a means of transmission of the provincial government. As the Caucus Office’s only source of funding is public funding, Elections Nova Scotia considered the flyer a transmission by the government and a contravention of section 272.
Section 275(4) prohibits a third party from incurrng more than $2000 in election advertising expenses of a in a given electoral district during a by-election. The Caucus is a third party, as it is a separate legal organization from the Nova Scotia Liberal party. By spending over $7000, the Caucus contravened section 275(4).
Section 277 requires third parties to identify themselves in any election advertising they publish, along with an indication that the third party has authorized the advertising. The Caucus did not indicated that it had authorized the flyer, which was a contravention of section 277.
In addition to signing the compliance agreement and acknowledging these contraventions, the Caucus has agreed to reimburse the cost of the flyers from “non-public funds”. I presume this refers to political donations, which, since a tax credit is provided for a significant portion, cannot really be considered “non-public”.
The CBC also reported yesterday that the Nova Scotia NDP will repay about $2000 for also contravening the Election Act by distributing flyers during the byelections.