A candidate for Halifax regional council said if voters donate more than $100 to his campaign, he’ll bring forward any motion they want.
Eric Jury, a candidate running to be the councillor for District 12 — Timberlea-Beechville-Clayton Park-Wedgewood — posted a since-deleted video on YouTube on Monday, Aug. 24, introducing himself to voters.
“I love giving back to my province and now I want to give back to my city and my community,” Jury said in the video, pictured sitting in a vehicle.
“I believe in family values, community spirit, long-standing traditions of all communities within the District 12 area.”
Jury then made a pitch for campaign contributions:
Basically, if you guys want to donate to my campaign, anybody that donates over $100, I’ll guarantee you guys will have a voice on council. I’ll bring any motion you want forward. My donation… you can donate to me through e-transfer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Thursday afternoon, Jury’s contact information on the declared candidates page of the municipality’s website linked directly to the Youtube video, along with his email and LinkedIn page, which says Jury is employed as an electrical designer at the provincial department of transportation and public works.
By 4pm Thursday, the YouTube link had been removed from the city’s website and the video was deleted.
Jury deleted the video from YouTube on Thursday afternoon, but the Halifax Examiner downloaded it first.
Zurawski posted on Facebook about Jury’s video on Thursday morning:
Wow! Just Wow! I am absolutely floored by a candidate on the www.halifax.ca candidate district 12 web site who has posted a youtube video where he explicitly says that he will sell his vote on HRM Council. Quote…. at about 30 seconds. “Anyone who donates more than 100 dollars I guarantee I will bring your motion forward on Council” Really!? I have three major issues with this.
- That a candidate would actually say that he is for sale
- That HRM staff has not vetted the material it posts
- That he is not immediately disqualified as a candidate for expressing this
The first comment on Zurawski’s post: “is this not illegal? buying votes?”
Jury’s offer may have been illegal.
Halifax’s recently reformed campaign finance bylaw — which bars organizations from donating and caps donations at $1,000 for councillors — is silent on the subject of offering anything in exchange for campaign contributions. But the provincial government’s Municipal Elections Act contains multiple sections that may apply.
Section 152, titled “Corrupt practices by candidate,” says in part:
Every candidate who, during an election (a) agrees, at the request of any person, to follow a course of action that will prevent him from exercising freedom of action on the council or to resign therefrom if called upon by any person […] is guilty of a corrupt practice and is liable to a penalty of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars or to imprisonment for a term of not less than ninety days nor more than twelve months, or to both.
Section 154, titled “Bribery,” says in part:
Every person who, directly or indirectly, offers, promises, gives, lends, accepts, borrows or demands valuable consideration, including office or employment, to (a) induce any elector to vote or to refrain from voting; (b) vote or refrain from voting; […] is guilty of bribery, and on summary conviction is liable to a fine of not less than one thousand dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term of not less than ninety days nor more than twelve months, or to both, and is disqualified from voting at any election for six years.
Federally, Section 121 of the Criminal Code, titled “Frauds on the government,” may apply.
And while it doesn’t apply to candidates and carries no strict penalties, the city’s code of conduct for councillors, Administrative Order 52, includes multiple sections regarding this kind of behaviour for sitting councillors.
Section 3(b)(i) states that councillors should act with integrity, “giving the municipality’s interests absolute priority over private individual interests.”
Section 10, titled “Gifts and Benefits,” says:
No Member shall show favouritism or bias toward any vendor, contractor or others doing business with the municipality. Members are prohibited from accepting gifts or favours from any vendor, contractor or others doing business with the Municipality personally, or through a family member or friend, which could give rise to a reasonable suspicion of influence to show favour or disadvantage to any individual or organization.
Section 12, titled “Obligations to Citizens,” says:
No Member shall grant any special consideration, treatment, or advantage to any citizen or group of citizens beyond that which is accorded to all citizens.
The Halifax Examiner asked the municipality whether Jury’s offer was in fact illegal, what fines he may face, whether the municipality was aware of it, whether it endorsed the offer by linking to the video, and whether there’s any vetting of what the municipality links to.
“The returning officer for the election has reached out to this candidate, and the video has been removed. No further action will be taken at this time,” municipal spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray said in an email.
Spray did not say whether Jury’s offer was illegal, but addressed the question about what fines he may face with a reference to the Criminal Code and the bribery section of the Municipal Elections Act:
In terms of penalty, if the Candidate was convicted under the Criminal Code, they face up to 5 years imprisonment. If the Candidate is convicted of bribery under the Municipal Elections Act, they face a fine of between $1,000 – $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of between 90 days and 12 months, or to both, and they are disqualified from voting at any election for six years.
As for whether the municipality endorsed the message by linking to it or whether there’s any vetting of what the municipality links to, Spray said, “The municipality does not endorse any individual candidate, nor the content of their election platforms.”
The Halifax Examiner also emailed Jury asking whether he believes the offer was appropriate, whether the municipality or any authorities have contacted him, and whether he stands by the offer. Jury did not reply by deadline. We’ll update this article if he does.
With the election coming up, the Halifax Examiner will have more campaign coverage in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check here to see whether you’re on the voters list, and check here to find out which district you live in. Candidates hoping to run have until Sep. 8 to file their nomination papers.
Update: Just after 9 p.m., Jury responded to the Examiner’s request for comment with a new video and a statement primarily aimed at Zurawski. The statement:
Here is new video for Richard (see attached), This from the sitting Green member that mailed 20,000 flyers to our district on non-recycled paper or wanted to close drive through’s which kept business alive During Covid, or how about promoting wild life within the city limits, by extending the corridor of Birch Cove Park? Does he understand that Deer’s and cars don’t mix or urban gardens or people during the rut??
Jury also posted a new video on YouTube, also aimed at Zurawski:
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