The Liberal government is rebooting a law on the costing of campaign promises with a new twist.
Under the legislation introduced Wednesday, a political party that doesn’t file an estimate of the costs of its commitments could lose the right to advertise for the rest of the election campaign.
“We wanted to make sure now that there are teeth in this bill, so that every party is held to the same standard,” said cabinet minister Victor Boudreau, who’s been overseeing electoral reform for the government.
‘We wanted to make sure now that there are teeth in this bill.’
– Victor Boudreau, cabinet minister
In 2015, the Liberals repealed legislation passed by the previous Progressive Conservative government requiring the costing of promises. The Liberals called it and other PC laws on fiscal transparency “gimmicky.”
Now, 18 months from the next election, the Liberals are embracing the idea.
2 key differences
The law would require parties to file public declarations with estimates of what their election platforms would cost taxpayers, or how much revenue they’d bring in.
That’s similar to the PC law, but the Liberal version has two key differences.
It doesn’t require an independent auditor or accountant to review the promises.
And it would penalize a party that doesn’t comply by revoking its ability to advertise its leader, candidates, and platform during the campaign.
The PC version only included penalties after the election was over. A party that didn’t cost its promises could lose its public subsidy.
A day’s warning
But the Liberal version says Elections New Brunswick will give a party 24 hours’ notice that it had not followed the law or that its disclosure statement was incomplete. After that, the party would be banned from advertising.
Asked if parties would have to take down lawn signs and billboards on public street corners, Boudreau said the advertising ban would be applied “within reason.”
And he said he was “assuming that if the…