A lengthy campaign

The writ has been dropped and Canadians are in for an extremely long campaign period for the Oct. 19 federal election.

The writ has been dropped and Canadians are in for an extremely long campaign period for the Oct. 19 federal election.

The minimum campaign period for a federal election is 36 days, but this year’s campaign is more than twice that length.

Some could argue that the major political parties have been campaigning for this election since the day after the last federal election in 2011, but the dropping of the writ has intensified the campaign.

An 11-week election campaign period is expensive for candidates, political parties and the federal government.

Candidates and parties must deal with the costs of advertising and renting space for campaign offices during this time. Elections Canada will also face increased costs for additional staffing and longer leases for returning officers in each federal riding. The amount paid out by Elections Canada in rebates to candidates and parties would also increase.

When these additional costs are considered, it is puzzling that the writ has been dropped this early.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the  Conservative Party tend to emphasize fiscal responsibility, especially where taxpayer dollars are involved. The increased costs from a lengthier campaign appear to go against such a message.

If a longer campaign period would result in greater dialogue about complex federal issues, higher costs could be justified, but it is unlikely this year’s long campaign will produce this result.

The first five weeks of the campaign, from now until Labour Day, are in the midst of the summer. It is a busy time of year for those in agriculture and tourism. For others, it is vacation season. It is not a time when Canadians are concentrating on political messages.

In fall, when the routines change, Canadians will be willing and able to devote more time to federal politics.

An election call at or just after the Labour Day weekend would allow plenty of time for campaigning, without needless additional expenses.

 

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