A new directive from Nicole Latour, chief electoral officer for the Northwest Territories, has opened the door to campaigning by self-declared candidates in the weeks leading up to the November 23 election.
Heralded by a news release and posted to the NWT Elections website, the latest edict from Latour is a complete reversal of her previous position, which banned electioneering outside the official election period that begins October 26.
Latour offered no explanation for the change, which followed a meeting with Speaker Jackie Jacobson during which he sought “clarification… of (the) directive regarding campaign activity prior to issuance” of the election writ.
“During the meeting, the Chief Electoral Officer offered to review the ruling and publicly clarify its intention,” Jacobson said in statement, and denied that he had in any way influenced Latour’s decision.
“There seems to be a view that I have issued a directive overriding a decision by the CEO. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Chief Electoral Officer and I had a productive discussion… I passed on to her some of the concerns… that were brought to my attention about her ruling.”
Latour’s initial ruling appeared to be directed at candidates who were using social media to boost their campaigns. It made them liable to a $2,000 fine and six months in jail, but permitted incumbent MLAs full access to personal Twitter and Facebook platforms.
Yellowknife city councilor Cory Vanthuyne, who intends to run in Yellowknife North/Weledeh, welcomed the clarification.
“This is good news because I think it provides continuity from Elections NWT based on the previous understanding,” Vanthuyne wrote in an email, referencing the position taken by David Brock, Latour’s predecessor.