Im­mi­nent fed­eral elec­tion to be costli­est, long­est in re­cent Cana­dian history

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Stephen Harper is poised to fire the start­ing gun for the Oct. 19 fed­eral elec­tion as early as Sun­day.

Sources say the prime min­is­ter is set to visit Gov. Gen. David John­ston within days, pos­si­bly as soon as Sun­day, to for­mally dis­solve Par­lia­ment and launch what will be the costli­est and — at 11 weeks — one of the long­est cam­paigns in Cana­dian history.

Here are five things vot­ers should know about Canada’s im­mi­nent 42nd gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign:

— Elec­tions law re­quires a min­i­mum cam­paign of 37 days. It does not im­pose a max­i­mum length. Harper is choos­ing to make this the long­est tra­di­tional cam­paign in Cana­dian history.

Only the first two elec­tion cam­paigns af­ter Con­fed­er­a­tion were longer — 81 days in 1867 and 96 days in 1872 — but in those early days vot­ing was stag­gered across the coun­try over a pe­riod of sev­eral months, nec­es­sar­ily ex­tend­ing the length of the cam­paigns. Since then, the long­est cam­paign was 74 days, way back in 1926.

Four long.

— Due to leg­is­la­tion passed last year by the Harper gov­ern­ment, cam­paign spend­ing lim­its for par­ties and can­di­dates will in­crease by 1/37th for of the last five cam­paigns were just five weeks ev­ery day longer than 37 days.

Even had this cam­paign lasted just the min­i­mum length, it was al­ready on tar­get to be the costli­est in history, with spend­ing lim­its of about $25 mil­lion for each party run­ning a full slate of can­di­dates and an av­er­age of about $100,000 for each can­di­date. Those lim­its will more than dou­ble for an 11-week cam­paign.

That gives a tremen­dous ad­van­tage to Harper’s Con­ser­va­tive party as its can­di­dates have raised more money than any other party.

— Elec­tions Canada es­ti­mates that a five-week cam­paign would cost about $375 mil­lion to ad­min­is­ter. A longer cam­paign will mean the agency must pay un­told mil­lions more to rent of­fice space, fur­ni­ture and equip­ment for re­turn­ing of­fi­cers in each of the coun­try’s 338 rid­ings and for staff in those of­fices.

Taxpayers will also foot the bill for much larger re­bates to par­ties and can­di­dates, who re­ceive re­im­burse­ments for 50 per cent and 60 per cent, re­spec­tively, of their el­i­gi­ble elec­tion ex­penses.

— The tra­di­tion of hold­ing two tele­vised lead­ers’ de­bates, the piv­otal point of mod­ern elec­tion cam­paigns, will not ap­ply this time. The Con­ser­va­tives up­ended that tra­di­tion last spring by an­nounc­ing that Harper would not par­tic­i­pate in the one French and one English de­bate spon­sored by a con­sor­tium of broad­cast­ers.

CP PHOTO

NDP leader Thomas Mul­cair takes a horse out of its stall while vis­it­ing an agri­cul­tural fair Wed­nes­day.

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