Two Island political parties are facing charges under the Election Expenses Act related to an election sign controversy that kicked off last spring’s provincial election.
The Liberal Party of P.E.I. has been charged with six separate violations of the Election Expenses Act, while the Green Party of P.E.I. has been charged with one.
Most charges related to complaints received by Elections P.E.I. about candidate signs that were erected in the first two days of the campaign. Several individuals, including candidates from opposing political parties, complained that signs had been erected before candidates had been officially registered.
The official start of the campaign was publicly announced by then-Liberal premier Wade MacLauchlan on March 26. Election signs went up that night, before candidates were registered.
New rules under the Elections Expenses Act, passed in June 2018, required candidates to officially register with Elections P.E.I. before advertising.
Paul Alan, manager of operations and communications with Elections P.E.I., said the organization has passed the matter on to P.E.I.’s director of prosecution.
"This is about the multiple complaints this office received regarding party signs, about unregistered candidates and signs being put up without being marked properly," Alan said.
John Diamond, director of prosecution for the Department of Justice and Public Safety, said charges were laid following a police investigation.
"Six of the counts related to putting signs up before candidates were registered. And one, against the Green party, is for not having authorization pursuant to the official agent of that party," Diamond said in an interview.
Diamond said two of the charges related to election candidate signage in Prince County, two related to signage in Queens County and two related to Kings County.
The charge against the Green party related to signage in the Long Creek/New Haven area.
Both political parties could face fines between $5,000 and $10,000 for each offence under the Act.
Diamond said he could not recall the last time a political party in P.E.I. faced legal charges related to election signage.