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The Election Financing Amendment and Elections Amendment Act (Government Advertising)

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S.M. 2021, c. 32

Bill 32, 3rd Session, 42nd Legislature

The Election Financing Amendment and Elections Amendment Act (Government Advertising)

Explanatory Note

This note was written as a reader's aid to the Bill and is not part of the law.

This Bill amends The Election Financing Act and The Elections Act.

The Election Financing Act

Amendments are made to change the restrictions on government advertising set out in The Election Financing Act.

For a fixed date election, the period in which the restrictions apply is shortened from 90 days to 60 days. For other elections, the restrictions continue to apply during the election period.

During these periods, the government can advertise or publish information about public health or safety matters, requests for proposals or tenders and government employment without having to demonstrate that the advertisements or publications are required at the time. A similar exception is provided for advertisements and publications concerning ongoing programs.

Amendments are also made to clarify that ministers may speak publicly during these periods, provided that no government resources are used to promote what they say.

The government is required to provide guidelines to assist departments and government agencies in complying with the restrictions.

A consequential amendment is made to The Referendum Act.

The Elections Act and The Election Financing Act

Coordinated amendments are made to The Elections Act and The Election Financing Act to require that the restrictions on government advertising be in place for at least 32 days before a non-fixed date election is called.

(Assented to May 20, 2021)

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, enacts as follows:

PART 1

THE ELECTION FINANCING ACT

C.C.S.M. c. E27 amended

1

The Election Financing Act is amended by this Part.

2(1)

Subsection 92(1) is amended

(a) in clause (a), by striking out "90 days" and substituting "60 days"; and

(b) by replacing clause (b) with the following:

(b) for a general election that is not a fixed date election,

(i) in the election period, and

(ii) in the period preceding the election period as set by order of the Lieutenant Governor in Council,

(c) for a by-election, in the election period.

Information Note

The period preceding a general election that is not a fixed date election relates to the calling of such an election under section 49 of The Elections Act.

2(2)

Subsection 92(2) is replaced with the following:

(2) — Exceptions

Subsection (1) does not apply to an advertisement or a publication

(a) that is required by law,

(b) that disseminates information about public health or safety matters,

(c) that, in relation to the usual operations of a government department or Crown agency,

(i) is in continuation of earlier advertisements or publications concerning an ongoing or recurring program or activity,

(ii) solicits proposals or tenders for a contract, or

(iii) is a job advertisement or is information disseminated at or about a job fair or career fair, or

(d) that deals with a matter before the Assembly, such as the throne speech, the budget, the introduction or passage of a bill or an order or resolution of the Assembly.

(3) — Additional restrictions for by-elections

During the election period of a by-election, the exceptions set out in clauses (2)(b) to (d) do not apply to an advertisement or publication that disproportionately targets the residents of the electoral division in which the by-election is being held.

(4) — Non-application to speaking by members of Executive Council

Nothing in this Act applies when a member of the Executive Council speaks on behalf of the government or about a matter concerning their ministerial responsibilities as long as government resources are not used

(a) to advertise or publish the date or time when, or location where, the member will speak,

(b) to invite a person to attend the location where the member will speak, or

(c) to advertise or publish the contents of the member's speech after it is made.

(5) — Guidelines

The government must develop and issue publicly available guidelines to assist government departments and Crown agencies in determining if information they intend to advertise or publish about their programs or activities is subject to the restrictions in this section.

3

The first paragraph of subsection 97(7) is replaced with the following:

The commissioner must make public the outcome of an investigation unless, in the commissioner's opinion, doing so is not in the public interest.

PART 2

THE ELECTIONS ACT

C.C.S.M. c. E30 amended

4

The Elections Act is amended by this Part.

5

The following is added after subsection 49(3):

When non-fixed date elections may be called

49(4)

The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make an order calling a general election other than a fixed date election only if

(a) the government has lost the confidence of the Assembly; or

(b) an order under clause 92(1)(b) of The Election Financing Act has been in effect for at least 32 days immediately before the day the order calling the election is made.

6

Subsection 49.1(1) is amended by adding "subsection 49(4) or" before "this section".

PART 3

CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS AND COMING INTO FORCE

Consequential amendments, S.M. 2019, c. 7 (unproclaimed)

7

Subclause 16(1)(a)(ii) and clause 16(1)(b) of The Referendum Act, S.M. 2019, c. 7, are amended by striking out "90 days"and substituting "60 days".

Coming into force

8

This Act comes into force three months after the day it receives royal assent.