Published Thursday, May 2, 2019 5:00PM EDT
OTTAWA – New Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he has “no intention” of running any government-funded advertising campaigns that could be seen as wading into the federal race.
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, Kenney said that his government has “no intention of intervening in the federal election with tax dollars.”
“I’ll be out there, unapologetically stumping for Conservative candidates, but not using government resources,” Kenney said.
This comes after Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer issued a reminder that the activities of provincial governments are not subject to restrictions under federal election law, in light of controversy over Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s gas-pump sticker campaign that takes aim at the federal carbon tax.
“The Elections Act does not govern the activities of provincial governments as it relates to federal-provincial issues,” said Elections Canada head Stephane Perrault in an interview on Wednesday with CTVNews.ca.
A premier who wants to personally get involved in a federal election campaign, pushing out election advertisements has to register as a third party, unless their messaging is coming through government-funded means.
Kenney said that the government will be setting up what he calls an “energy war room” to promote positive information about Canadian oil. He called this “largely an advocacy campaign.”
Perrault said the federal position over decades has been that the third-party regulations — which applies to any person or group that is not a registered political party that conducts partisan activities during a federal election campaign — do not apply to provincial government advertising campaigns. However, each province does have its own restrictions on the types of advertising they are able to engage in using public funds.
Under federal elections law, third parties have to register with Elections Canada, report their contributions and adhere to spending restrictions.
Kenney has signalled his intent to create an alliance of conservative premiers who are opposed to the federal carbon tax. It’s yet to be seen how this opposition, which favours federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s plan to scrap the carbon-pricing scheme, will play out during the fall federal campaign.
In a recent interview on CTV’s Question Period, Kenney said that he will be doing whatever he can to ensure that a federal Conservative government is elected in the fall. Much of his provincial campaign was spent attacking Trudeau and vowing to fight the federal government on a number of matters.