Halifax arts and culture activist and New Democrat Andrew Terris weighs in on the union donation flap:
As I understand it, there are two critical factors: 1. Are the members of the [Building and] Construction Trades Council separately incorporated bodies?  If they are, their donations are not illegal. The [Members and Public Employees] Disclosure Act says "a trade union and all its members and affiliates are considered to be one organization." But it looks to me like the Council is an association of unions rather than a single, inclusive entity under the act. 2. Given #1, the NDP could well have accepted the donations in good faith. The real problem was the offer of the Council to reimburse the unions, an offer about which the NDP might well have known nothing until it was leaked to you and other media bloodhounds...
The NDP have joined the Liberals in insisting that voters go to the poll without knowing who donated to their campaign. The party revealed the names of labour unions and corporations that gave to the campaign, but withheld the names of individuals who contributed a total of $287,013.12. "The initial advice we received from [Chief Electoral Officer]  Christine [McCulloch] is that there were privacy concerns," said N-dip campaign director Matt Hebb. "If she has different advice now, I will take a look at it.' McCulloch's press aide Dana Philip Doiron told contrarian last week that, in response to requests for an opinion, McCulloch merely told the parties they should seek their own legal counsel, because it was not appropriate for her to issue legal advice.
Well this is disturbing. In defending his decision to keep the names of private donors to his campaign secret until after election day, Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil cited privacy concerns. Since provincial law requires the names and addresses of all donors, and the amounts of their donations, to be disclosed and published annually by Elections Nova Scotia, this looked like a feeble excuse to avoid drawing pre-election attention to any embarrassing donors on the Liberal list. Now it turns out that Chief Electoral Officer Christine McCulloch handed McNeil—and the other three party leaders—a fig leaf they could use to hide any sketchy contributors from voter scrutiny. Contrarian suspected as much when a candidate for the Green Party said they had intended to post their list of donors on the campaign website today, but were holding off because, "The Chief Electoral Officer apparently has concerns about compromising the privacy of individual donors by releasing their names." This sounded absurd, so we checked with the Chief Electoral Office, where spokesman Dana Philip Doiron responded:
[T]he Chief electoral Officer has advised all registered political parties... that they should seek their own legal counsel before publishing the names and other personal information of contributors as they may be subject to the Protection of Privacy provisions of FOIPOP [the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act], while the reporting by Elections Nova Scotia is deemed to be in the public interest and not subject to FOIPOP.
A quick read of the FOIPOP act confirms the obvious. It applies only to "records in the custody or under the control of a public body, including court administration records." It has no conceivable application to records held by a political party.