(YELLOWKNIFE) Thursday, October 25, 2018 – Today, Kieron Testart, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Kam Lake, announced his intention to introduce amendments to the Elections and Plebiscites Act to allow for the registration and regulation of political parties in the Northwest Territories.
“Voters should have the right to determine the political future of the NWT through free and fair elections where all options are made available to them, including political parties,” said Mr. Testart of the amendments adding, “These amendments will give Northerners more choice at the ballot box, clarity relating to existing legislation and enhance the democratic rights of our citizens”.
The ability to formally organise political parties is a well-entrenched right of Canadian citizens guaranteed through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The NWT does not currently have legislation that specifically defines neither a ‘political party’ nor does it clarify the rights and responsibilities of parties to engage in NWT elections and political activity.
Mr. Testart is proposing the following changes to the Elections and Plebiscites Act:
• Political Parties can register with Elections NWT with a minimum of 60 members representing at least three electoral districts and a constitution approved by the majority of those members.
• Candidates for registered political parties will be able to have their party affiliation listed on the ballot for an election
• Candidates not running with a Registered Party would be identified as “Independent”.
• Registered Parties would be limited to annual spending limits of $30,000 to promote candidates outside of election periods.
The proposed amendments would not affect the current operations of the Legislative Assembly and will not change the way Northerners vote in elections nor their ability to run as independent candidates.
The Government of the Northwest Territories currently maintain three statutes, the Public Service Act, the Co-operative Associations Act, and the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act that make certain prohibitions against “territorial political parties,” in addition to the prohibition on employee involvement with territorial political parties contained in the GNWT’s Code of Conduct.
“The GNWT has three laws on the books in addition to its code of conduct that prohibit engagement with territorial political parties and yet has no legislation to define what a political party is and what are its and its’ members’ rights and responsibilities. This longstanding oversight must be corrected to ensure our legislature is meeting the basic standards of democratic institutions,” said Mr. Testart.
Bill 24: An Act to Amend the Elections and Plebiscites Act will be read for the first time on October 25, 2018. Debate on the bill, including Mr. Testart’s amendments is scheduled for October 29, 2018.
For more information, contact:
Kieron Testart, MLA Kam Lake
Legislative Assembly of the NWT
p: 867-767-9143 ext. 12135