May 16, 2019 7:56 pm

Nova Scotia NDP file complaint against PC candidate in Sackville-Cobequid byelection

An undated photo of Steve Craig, the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative candidate for the Sackville-Cobequid By-Election

Nova Scotia PC Party/Twitter

Nova Scotia NDP have filed a complaint with Elections Nova Scotia, alleging that the Progressive Conservative nominee for the Sackville-Cobequid byelection has violated the province’s Elections Act.

The NDP’s provincial secretary, Jamie Masse, said that they are looking to make sure the action’s taken by Steve Craig are in line with the act.

The complaint centres on two issues, both of which are tied to Craig’s actions as a municipal councillor for Lower Sackville.

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READ MORE: Sackville-Cobequid byelection to be held next month

First is a $20,000 cheque given to the Friends of First Lake Society that the NDP allege could be a violation of rules about making donations during an election period.

The writ for the election was officially issued on the same day the cheque was handed over: May 15, 2019.

Craig disputed that there was anything untoward about the cheque, saying that he’d originally planned to hand it over in April, but that he’d be asked by the organization to present the funds at the group’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

“My job as a councillor doesn’t just stop,” Craig said in an interview on Thursday.

Craig said that the cheque — which was distributed under the Halifax Regional Municipality’s district capital funds — was “business as usual” for him as a councillor.

He drew attention to another $20,000 cheque he issued to the Friends of First Lake Society in 2013.

Newsletter draws fire

Masse, who filed the complaint, said the other issue was in regards to a newsletter Craig sent to his municipal constituents.

“We believe it’s advertising for him as a councillor and as a candidate,” Masse said.

Craig said that the newsletter is no different from what he’s provided to his constituents in previous years.

“I feel like I’m continuing to do my duties as councillor,” Craig said, adding that he wasn’t the one who decided to call the election at this time.

“The premier was the one who chose that.”

Masse said they just want Elections Nova Scotia to determine if any rules have been broken.

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What happens next?

Under the Elections Act, the chief electoral officer will now determine whether Craig has violated the act.

If a violation has occurred, the chief electoral officer has a range of options which include dismissing the complaint, issuing a notice of non-compliance or prosecuting the offence.

Sackville-Cobequid has been a stronghold for the NDP, with Dave Wilson representing the riding since 2003. Prior to that, NDP MLA John Holm held the seat for over a decade.

In that race, Craig will be joined by  Lara Fawthrop for the NDP, Michel Hindlet for the Liberals and Anthony Edmonds will represent the Greens.

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