Sackville-Cobequid By-election

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Sackville-Cobequid By-election

The Sackville-Cobequid by-election, which was the result of the resignation of MLA Dave Wilson, has not yet been called but must be called by May 16th. The NDP have held the seat since 1984 with John Holm and Dave Wilson. The registered candidates so far:

Lara Fawthrop         Nova Scotia New Democratic Party (NDP)
Steve Craig           Progressive Conservative Association of Nova Scotia (PC)

The Nova Scotia NDP have selected Lara Fawthrop to run in the Sackville-Cobequid byelection.

The party held their nomination ceremony in Lower Sackville on Saturday. The seat opened up in November when NDP MLA Dave Wilson announced he was stepping down.

Fawthrop says her focus, if elected, will be on wait times in health care, specifically when it comes to mental health. “For me, to represent Sackville, it would mean accomplishment for all,” said Fawthrop, “because one of the things I value is working together as a team. So it’s actually not for me, it means something for us.” ...

Fawthrop says she saw Wilson’s resignation as an opportunity. “I thought for a minute, maybe this is my opportunity to expand the work that I did at Sackvile High School for that school community, and to expand that work to the larger community of Sackville,” she said.

Sackville-Cobequid has been a stronghold for the NDP, with Dave Wilson representing the riding since 2003. Prior to that, NDP MLA John Holm held the seat for over a decade.

Provincial NDP Leader Gary Burrill says it will be up to the residents of Sackville, but he’s hopeful his party will continue to represent the riding. “The constituency has been served here for the last 35 years with extraordinary diligence, with a real door-to-door service to the people,” Burrill said.





The Liberals candidate is Michel Hindlet.

Hindlet has two decades of experience in technical sales in the electronics industry, according to the party. He has also served numerous causes including the Sackville Rivers Association, the Friends of First Lake organization, and the Sackville Lakes Park. ...

The NDP announced in February that Lara Fawthrop will represent their party. The PCs will have regional councillor Steve Craig running for them.


kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I'm glad I looked up the riding. When I hear Sackville I think of New Brunswick. So this is a exurban Halifax riding?


kropotkin1951 wrote:

I'm glad I looked up the riding. When I hear Sackville I think of New Brunswick. So this is a exurban Halifax riding?

Below a map of its location and a description of the riding's history.



The by election was announced today on the last possible day of a six month period. It probably suggests the Liberals don't have high expectations of winning. 

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Wednesday the byelection to replace former MLA Dave Wilson will be held June 18. Elections Nova Scotia rules say the premier has six months from the time of a departure to call a byelection. Thursday was the last possible day for McNeil to make the call.

The seat has been vacant since Wilson retired in November.

Four parties have already nominated candidates for the race. Steve Craig is running for the Progressive Conservatives, Anthony Edmonds is running for the Green Party, Lara Fawthrop is representing the NDP and Michel Hindlet will carry the banner for the Liberals. ...

Craig is a Halifax Regional Municipality councillor, Edmonds is an aerospace engineer, Fawthrop is a music teacher and Hindlet is a salesperson. Edmonds and Hindlet both ran in the last provincial election.

While incumbency is not a guarantee in a Nova Scotia byelection — seats have flipped in nine of the last 20 byelections — Sackville-Cobequid has been a staunchly NDP district dating back to 1984, when John Holm was first elected.

Holm held the seat until 2003, the year he retired and Wilson was first elected.

Wilson retired after 15 years as a New Democrat MLA, which included a stint as health minister and House leader for his party. He's now the director of the provincial 911 system at the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.



The NDP has filed a complaint on two issues with Elections Nova Scotia over the actions of PC candidate Steve Craig.

The NDP’s provincial secretary, Jamie Masse, said that they are looking to make sure the action’s taken by Steve Craig are in line with the act. The complaint centres on two issues, both of which are tied to Craig’s actions as a municipal councillor for Lower Sackville.

First is a $20,000 cheque given to the Friends of First Lake Society that the NDP allege could be a violation of rules about making donations during an election period. The writ for the election was officially issued on the same day the cheque was handed over: May 15, 2019.

Craig disputed that there was anything untoward about the cheque, saying that he’d originally planned to hand it over in April, but that he’d be asked by the organization to present the funds at the group’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Masse, who filed the complaint, said the other issue was in regards to a newsletter Craig sent to his municipal constituents.“We believe it’s advertising for him as a councillor and as a candidate,” Masse said. ...

Masse said they just want Elections Nova Scotia to determine if any rules have been broken. ...

Under the Elections Act, the chief electoral officer will now determine whether Craig has violated the act. If a violation has occurred, the chief electoral officer has a range of options which include dismissing the complaint, issuing a notice of non-compliance or prosecuting the offence.


I’ve got a lot of respect for Jamie Masse and I think he’s a very capable political operative. But these really seem like small potatoes.


Elections Nova Scotia has ruled on a NDP raised issue concerning PC candidate and current municipal councillor for Lower Sackville Steve Craig giving a $20,000 cheque given to the Friends of First Lake Society on the day the by election was called did not violate any laws.  However, ENS's Chief Electoral Officer, Richard Temporale, has recommended "councillors take a break from their municipal duties if they run in future provincial elections." Elections Nova Scotia also recommends that laws be changed in this regard in the future because keeping a municipal office while running for a provincial position gives the candidate a"distinct advantage". 

According to ENS's Chief Electoral Officer, the money came from Craig's $94,000 district discretionary fund and was given to the president of the Sackville Lake and Trails Association at their annual general meeting on May 15.

"When interviewed during the investigation, Mr. Craig advised ENS that his decision to provide funds to the Sackville Lake and Trails Association was made in late April/early May of 2019 after the HRM budget was approved," said Richard Temporale in his decision released Wednesday. When the executive of the Association was informed of his decision, they requested he wait until the AGM on May 15, 2019 to present the funds." ...

However Temporale says being in a position to distribute discretionary funds give councillors a "distinct advantage" over competing candidates and he's recommending they take a leave of absence from elected positions during an election period.

"This legislative change would prevent the 'spill over' effect ... whereby an elected official's activities in their role as an elected official, that take place while they are a candidate for the provincial legislature, will not influence potential voters in an ongoing election," Temporale suggested.

Temporale would also like to see Halifax Regional Municipality update guidelines on spending during municipal, provincial or federal elections, so that discretionary funds can't be allocated by councillors from the time they register as a provincial candidates through to election day.


Election Nova Scotia's (ENS) Chief Electoral Officer, Richard Temporale, recommendation that "councillors take a break from their municipal duties if they run in future provincial elections." In addition, ENS's recommendation that laws be changed in this regard in the future because keeping a municipal office while running for a provincial position gives the candidate a"distinct advantage" is producing a lot of discussion following the PC's candidate and municipal councillor, Steve Craig, in the  Sackville-Cobequid by-election giving out $20,000 on the day the by-election was called to the Friends of First Lake Society.

In the decision, Elections Nova Scotia Chief Electoral Officer Richard Temporale indicated that although the rules weren’t broken it may be time that they are changed, perhaps to move more closely in line with what MLAs looking to move into federal politics have to abide by.

“I think it’s a sound recommendation,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill, despite the ruling going against what his party asserted. “The CEO has said under the letter of the law what happened strictly speaking is legal but it’s very poor judgment and it ought not to take place.”

Burrill says it’s vindication that the complaint they made was warranted, even if the framework isn’t in place at this point.

“The 25 words or less version of that report is that what happened with the disbursement of public funds by a sitting councillor running for MLA is something that ought not to happen and that the laws of Nova Scotia should be changed so it doesn’t happen in the future,” he said. ...

PC Leader Tim Houston has differing views on the report. He believes the rules governing municipal politicians entering the provincial picture are different from what’s dictated to MLAs heading to federal politics for a reason and isn’t interested in any changes being made.

“I think we need to be realistic that councillors have responsibilities, committees representing people on different issues and doing that during the writ period I don’t think is going to make or break an election,” Houston explained. “Lots of people have a job when they’re campaigning and if they feel they can do both of those to the best of their ability that’s a decision they have to make.”

“Of all the issues that keep me awake that’s not one of them,” said Premier Stephen McNeil, who downplayed the suggestion that the rules require an update. ...

Mark Furey, the minister eesponsible for the Elections Act indicated that they are continuing to review the decision and admits it does pique some curiosity.\

“It’s an interesting discussion,” he said. “Obviously there’s a difference between the municipal level of government and the provincial, federal level of government. We’ll look at the report provided by Mr. Temporale and determine what out next steps will be.”