Sue's Blog

Friday, September 05, 2014

Election must be called by January 2015

If the PC's go beyond January 24th to call an election - they are ignoring the law. The House of Assembly Act was amended in 2004. This is the first time since - provisions for election upon the early resignation of a Premier - 3.1 - apply.

Where are the experts? Where are the authoritative opinions or interpretations? Our democracy and laws are at stake.

Here are the relevant sections:

 Duration of House of Assembly
        3. (1) Notwithstanding subsection (2), the Lieutenant-Governor may, by proclamation in Her Majesty’s name, prorogue or dissolve the House of Assembly when the Lieutenant-Governor sees fit.
             (2)  A polling day at a general election shall be held on the second Tuesday in October, 2007 and afterward on the second Tuesday in October in the fourth calendar year following the polling day at the most recently held general election.

Election on change of Premier
      3.1 Where the leader of the political party that forms the government resigns his or her position as leader and as Premier of the province before the end of the third year following the most recent general election, the person who is elected by the party to replace him or her as the leader of the party and who is sworn in as the Premier of the province by the Lieutenant-Governor shall, not later than 12 months afterward, provide advice to the Lieutenant-Governor that the House of Assembly be dissolved and a general election be held.

The people of this province must demand that the law be upheld and demand a ruling on the legislation.

Let's look at the intent - the law provides the establishment of a fixed election date - to provide predictability and stability in the election process and to reduce political opportunism. Secondly the law provided for an exception - in that it anticipates that a Premier could resign early. The law defines early as before the end of the third year. Given this eventuality the law prescribes that the fixed election date provision is no longer applicable and establishes a new process with limits.  The limit prescribed is-  not later than 12 months afterward.

The reason the wording "before the end of the third year" is used in 3.1 to outline timing - is that by the end of the third year the election is already set by law in 3.

Therefore the only meaning one can attribute to the word "afterward" is relative to the resignation date NOT the date a new leader is chosen and sworn in. Otherwise an election would never have to be held as long as he/she is not sworn in as Premier. That is also the reason the words "in either case no later than provided for in 3" are not used to define a new time limit in the event of a resignation.

The election must be called by January 24th 2015 and we must demand the law be followed. If this means going to the Lieutenant Governor or to the courts for interpretation - then so be it.

The reason for my review of the language again - this time - taking off the "loophole" blinders and giving credit to the drafters (Justice Department officials) - is because what was taking place by the PC's appeared to be in direct conflict with the intent of the law.

Additionally if one reads section 3.1 minus the wording between comma's which defines a new leader - one can see the intent was the date referring to the resignation. The only reason the inserted wording was used was to differentiate the authority of a new leader versus an interim leader.


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