After the Caucus offices of two major political parties acknowledged contravening the election advertising provisions of the Elections Act (Nova Scotia) in the exact same way, Elections Nova Scotia has taken the step of issuing an advisory on the rules for election advertising during a by-election.
The source of confusion in these Nova Scotia by-elections seems to be the exact date of when the election advertising rules for by-elections take effect.
The definition of election advertising in the Act is limited to advertising that is transmitted “during an election”. It seems that most people assumed that in the case of these by-elections, the election period would begin when the writs were issued.
However, the term “during an election” is itself defined in the Act. According to section 2(f) “during an election” means the period commencing with the dissolution of the House of Assembly, or the occurrence of a vacancy in consequence of which a writ for an election is eventually issued, and ending when a candidate is declared elected.
This means that the election period for a by-election starts as soon as there is a vacancy, not when the writ is eventually issued. So for the by-elections in Dartmouth South, Sydney-Whitney Pier and Cape Breton Centre, although the writs of election have not yet been issued, the by-election period is well under way.
The advisory also notes that third parties must register immediately upon spending $500 on advertising, and the expense limit for third parties is $2,135.02 for each of the three electoral districts where a by election is being held.
If you or your organization is thinking about conducting political advertising of any kind in Nova Scotia at any time up to when the winners of these by-elections are declared, make sure you know how the election advertising rules apply. If you aren’t sure or have any questions about the rules, please contact me.