Writs large

Tim­ing of elec­tion call a po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­lus for Con­ser­va­tives

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA -

What vot­ers will de­cide on Oct. 19 is be­yond the Con­ser­va­tives' con­trol. But one thing is firmly in their grasp: when to drop the writs that will take them to the polls.

Ex­actly what day Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper will visit the Gover­nor Gen­eral to make the for­mal re­quest to dis­solve Par­lia­ment and call the elec­tion has been the source of weeks of po­lit­i­cal spec­u­la­tion. And with good rea­son - it's ul­ti­mately a po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­lus of the Con­ser­va­tives' own de­vis­ing.

Although a law passed in 2007 set a fixed elec­tion date for Par­lia­ment, it didn't set a fixed length on how long the elec­tion cam­paign could be, only how short - no less than 37 days in­clud­ing the day it be­gins.

Fast for­ward to 2014 and the in­tro­duc­tion and sub­se­quent pas­sage of the con­tentious Fair Elec­tions Act, which among other things changed the rules around cam­paign fi­nance.

In short - the longer the cam­paign, the more ev­ery­one can spend.

As the party sit­ting on the big­gest war chest, there's no ques­tion the Con­ser­va­tives would want to start the elec­tion sooner rather than later, the New Democrats sug­gested.

“Word is Stephen Harper could call the elec­tion early, in as lit­tle as 25 days,” reads a fundrais­ing pitch sent by the party last week.

“It's not hard to see why - the longer the elec­tion, the more money the Con­ser­va­tives can spend at­tack­ing us.”

The sooner the writs are dropped, the sooner the Con­ser­va­tives could also po­ten­tially curb third-party groups like En­gage Canada, a union­backed or­ga­ni­za­tion cur­rently run­ning ads against them, much to their frus­tra­tion.

Right now, groups like that also have no lim­its on spend­ing, but if they spend $500 on ads af­ter an elec­tion call, they must register as a third party. Then, lim­its come into ef­fect, though they are also in­creased ac­cord­ing to the length of the elec­tion.

Then there's the other side of the po­lit­i­cal coin.

Once the elec­tion has be­gun, gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tions can no longer ad­ver­tise un­less they have a le­gal obli­ga­tion to do so or it's a public safety mat­ter.

At the same time, lim­its are im­posed on what po­lit­i­cal par­ties can spend.

CP PHOTO

Ex­actly what day Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper will visit the Gover­nor Gen­eral to make the for­mal re­quest to dis­solve Par­lia­ment and call the elec­tion has been the source of weeks of po­lit­i­cal spec­u­la­tion. Harper speaks at the an­nual South West Stam­pede BBQ in Cal­gary, Alta., on July 4 .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.