In a break with decades of past practice, Nova Scotia elections officials say they will withhold detailed results of the October 7 8 election for almost a month. In previous provincial elections, newspapers published poll-by-poll results a day or two after the vote. At a time when the internet has encouraged governments of all shapes and sizes to be more forthcoming with useful data, Elections Nova Scotia is moving in the opposite direction. Dana Phillip Doiron, director of policy and communications, declined to explain the policy change except to say the Chronicle-Herald "had no interest" in publishing this election's poll-by-poll results, and...

At the risk of sounding like a Green Party blog, today's news has to be disheartening for those adherents who have tried to get the party back on track. After the break, an email from Elections Nova Scotia Communications Director Dana Philip Doiron describes the outcome of a meeting this morning in which Chief Electoral Office Christine McCulloch gave outgoing party leader Ryan Watson and official agent Kathryn Herbert one last chance to demonstrate that the party can meet its legal obligations.

Defeated Green Party candidate and perennial political gadfly Michael Marshall, who has been hounding his party's executive to comply with financial disclosure rules, finds the legislation governing riding associations too complicated—and a damper on participation. Elections Canada is asking the parties if the added complexity of their new election legislation is reducing the number of people willing to get involved in the political process. Part of the reason for the lower voter turnout is because, in many ridings, only one or two parties are truly competitive—and the complexity of election laws is one reason that many riding executives are so weak—no...

ryan-watson-smallNova Scotia Green Party leader Ryan Watson says the party will publish its 2008 audited financial statements "within a few weeks." Based on regular conversations with Elections Nova Scotia, he believes this will be soon enough to avoid loss of official party status. By law, the financial statements should have been filed by April 30. Elections Nova Scotia communications director Dana Philip Doiron told contrarian earlier today that Chief Electoral Office Christine McCulloch had issued the required 30-day notice of deregistration required under the Elections Act, and a report due for release Tuesday would detail the issue. He said deregistration could follow shortly. Watson said the late filing resulted from the party being new, its treasurer taking an untimely vacation,  and its reliance on volunteers who were "wading through the election regulations," and busy preparing for and fighting the June election.
green-watsonThe Green Party of Nova Scotia, and riding associations for the Greens and two other recognized parties, face imminent deregistration under the Elections Act for failing to publish audited financial statements for the last fiscal year as required by law. Dana Philip Doiron, communications director for Elections Nova Scotia, confirmed that Chief Electoral Officer Christine McCulloch will file her annual report under the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act (MPED) Tuesday, and deregistration could follow shortly thereafter. "Sometimes [the report's release is] a ho-hum event, and Frank is the only one interested," Doiron said "In this particular case the report will be looking at compliance for reporting, and that report will be interesting."
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.