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Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16, 2017

 

For Immediate Release

 

New ‘Special Ballot’ Bill is Fundamentally Flawed

 

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “The Bill the Liberals brought to the House of Assembly to fix the ‘special ballot’ legislation that was just ruled unconstitutional is itself fundamentally flawed.”

 

“Once a Bill reaches the floor of the House of Assembly, the amending rules make it difficult, if not impossible, to correct flaws in multiple parts of a Bill. The Opposition caucuses were briefed on the draft Bill on October 12 and raised concerns. The government agreed the Bill was flawed and corrected some provisions in the October 13 draft, but there are other concerns which need to be addressed. Remember: this is about fixing elections legislation that was deemed unconstitutional, so it is imperative that we get this Bill right. Therefore, the PC Caucus has written to the government and NDP House leaders to request an urgent meeting to discuss issues with the Bill and find ways to improve it before it's introduced in the House,” said Davis. “That can be done effectively and quickly if we all agree to work together.”

 

Davis said the Opposition has three principal concerns:

 

First, the Bill would require parties to have all their candidates in place within just 5 days of any election call. “That’s too little time for non-governing parties and independent candidates to get candidates in place, particularly in a general election in 40 districts. It undermines democracy by favoring the governing party – something the court condemned.”

 

Second, the Bill would eliminate the maximum duration of election campaigns, allowing campaigns to last for an indefinite period. “That would do away with the certainty of fixed election schedules that we have had for more than a decade. Even with a fixed election date, the government – under this Bill – could dissolve the House as early as it wishes, leaving others with just 5 days to nominate all of their candidates. This, too, would favor the governing party – something the court condemned.”

 

Third, the Bill would still allow the use of special ballots that do not contain the names and affiliations of candidates, and would not require the Chief Electoral Officer to include a full list of candidates in the special ballot kits that voters receive. “Voters could still be left uninformed about their choices – something the court condemned.”

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean

 

Director of Operations and Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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