Nova Scotia

Opposition vows to delay N.S. election bill

Nova Scotia's opposition parties say they'll delay passage of a bill on Friday that changes the province's election rules.

Nova Scotia's opposition parties say they'll try to delay passage of a bill on Friday that changes the province's election rules.

The NDP government introduced the Elections Act last week but has since come up with 18 pages of amendments after opposition parties and the media questioned the original bill, which did not include limits on third party advertising during campaigns.

As part of the amendments, the government announced earlier this week it would limit third party spending to $10,000 for the province and not more than $2,000 in any one constituency.

The new Elections Act cleared the law amendments committee on Thursday, but both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives said they want more time to examine those changes.

"There is no election in Nova Scotia that is imminent and a bill as important as this that I think Nova Scotians would expect that we would come to all party agreement on, we're asking for the time to consider it and get it right," said Jamie Baillie, the leader of the Progressive Conservatives.

Both opposition parties would have to consent to the bill going before the house of assembly for further debate on Friday.

Christine McCulloch, the chief electoral officer, had recommended there should be controls on what unions, lobby groups, corporations and other interested parties do during election campaigns.

McCulloch said Thursday she is still working through those amendments to ensure she's comfortable with the changes.

"They appear to reflect a lot of existing regimes on third party regulation. I'd like a little more time to consider them and figure out how we're going to implement them so that's where I am."

New Democrat MLA Leonard Preyra said the time for debating the bill has passed.

"There will always be changes. There will always be groups that will want changes made and I think there's a certain point in law making when you say, 'We have to pass this law and modernize it,'" he said.

"This law hasn't been changed in such a long time, it was in desperate need of modernization."