POLITICS

Nova Scotia amends Elections Act to allow candidates to collect salary

06/15/2015 02:50 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - A section of Nova Scotia's Elections Act has been changed to allow political candidates to earn a salary while running for office, the province's premier announced Monday.

The move comes after a single mother who planned to run as an independent candidate in the Dartmouth South byelection was told she would not be allowed to work during the campaign because her salary would be considered an illegal campaign contribution.

An amendment to the province's Elections Act was recently passed in the Nova Scotia legislature exempting salaries from the campaign contribution rules, but the change wasn't slated to take effect until Jan. 1.

In light of Charlene Gagnon's case, Premier Stephen McNeil asked Monday that the section of the law for employment remuneration be proclaimed immediately.

McNeil said the section was not fair to candidates who do not have financial support from a political party.

"The case that arose with respect to an independent candidate clearly shows that this section of the law was prohibitive and a deterrent. That's why we felt the change was necessary to begin with," said McNeil in a news release on Monday.

Gagnon, a single mother who works for a non-profit group and only makes around $24,000 per year, said the move is a weight off her shoulders and she's excited to hit the campaign trial ahead of the July 14 byelection.

"It restores my faith in the process," said Gagnon in a phone interview on Monday. "I'm shocked. But it's giving me more energy. If you stand up for what's right, what's right will prevail."

Dartmouth South, previously held by the Liberals, is one of three ridings that will hold byelections next month.

Seats are also up for grabs in the Cape Breton ridings of Sydney-Whitney Pier and Cape Breton Centre, which were previously held by the NDP.