EDITORIAL: Election campaign costly

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We’re not going to say that it wasn’t money well spent in the end. 

Elections Canada says last fall's federal election campaign, all 78 days of it, was the most expensive in Canada’s history as well as—not surprisingly—the most expensive.

How expensive?

The preliminary estimate by Elections Canada was a paltry $443 million to administer. That’s half again what it cost for the 2011 election—or, for those checking their own wallets, that was just a little less than $15 for each man, woman and child.

We don’t know yet how many more millions will be paid out to political parties and their candidates, who are eligible for rebates of up to 50 per cent and 60 per cent respectively on their campaign expenses.

Rebates topped $60 million after the 2011 election, a figure that's bound to be higher for the 2015 vote since the lengthy campaign meant spending limits for parties and candidates were effectively doubled.

The preliminary cost estimate is contained in an Elections Canada report on the Oct. 19 election, tabled last week in Parliament.

The independent agency, which occasionally ran afoul of our former prime minister, says the higher election costs also reflected the addition of 30 new ridings.

But, and here’s the but, at least the election resulted in the political demise of the man who thought it would be a good idea to subject the country to such a long (78 days…come on!) election, and at such ridiculous expense.

It wasn’t cynical to think that Stephen Harper was trying to break the banks of the Liberals and NDP.

Just this once, however, the election expense wasn’t entirely for naught. An arrogant political gambit rebounded on its maker.

Unlike the political system in the United States, there is no justification for spending more than four weeks on a Canadian election.

Any politicians in the future who want to gamble on a lengthier campaign should remember 2015.

Parliament should re-examine its approval of higher spending limits for longer elections when the money comes from the public purse.

But, no bets on that happening.

Organizations: Elections Canada, NDP

Geographic location: United States

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  • Bruce
    February 13, 2016 - 09:40

    Fixed election dates such as the last one with a longer campaign period I feel would be preferred over a snap election call solely to increase seat count based on weak opposition or favourable poll numbers as practiced by federal liberals in the not to distance past.