The provincial Liberals, citing irregularities in the financial filing of Proudly NB and potential coordination between Proudly NB and the PC Party in the last election, are introducing legislation today to further regulate the activity of so-called “third parties” in New Brunswick politics.
The legislation, introduced today, would significantly increase transparency and reporting for third parties with the following measures among other consequential amendments:
- ensure political advertising outside of an election period is also disclosed, currently these groups can advertise before and after election periods with no disclosure, as Proudly NB has done;
- mandate the Supervisor of Political Financing to complete a review of third party spending limits and report back with recommendation;
- require third parties to disclose all of their decision makers;
- require third parties to file financial disclosures twice per year in non-election years, the same as political parties, and 90 days before a scheduled election, and in the days before advanced polls in an election;
- repeal the section of the Political Process Financing Act that requires a government cabinet minister to sign off on any charges under the law;
- cause political parties who are found to have violated the existing ban on collusion with third parties to be de-registered as political parties.
Proudly NB, a group with close ties to big oil, national conservative groups and prominent New Brunswick Progressive Conservatives, including a former executive assistant to Blaine Higgs, played an out-sized role in the last provincial election blanketing the province with text messages and social media advertising.
In 2017, just as third parties supporting their cause were beginning to organize, the provincial Progressive Conservatives introduced a bill which would have eliminated all spending limits and reporting requirements for third parties.
“The Tories now say they wanted to ban third parties when they introduced legislation to do the opposite, either they were incompetent or they were disingenuous,” said McKee. “We hope the Premier and his party will keep their word this time and support our legislation.”