A Long 11-week Federal Election Campaign – Good or Bad?

I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of a long 11-week federal election campaign. Voting day is this year is October 19, 2015. If memory serves me correctly, this is the first federal election under the fixed-election date era. Prime Minister Stephen Harper just asked the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament on Sunday, August 2; thus, triggering the election campaign preceding the fixed election date.

Some are optimistic that a long campaign might fix 4 political problems. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that. Here are the 4 problems listed by Rachel Decoste at the Huffington Post:

  • The writ is enough time for the voting public to grapple with list of ballot box questions, complex policy issues.
    • I am not so optimistic that these issues would be resolved by a long campaign. Most people are procrastinators, not political news junkies. People will not really pay attention to the issues until closer to the time.
  • Dismal electoral participation from the youth vote.
    • I don’t really understand how a longer campaign allows youth (university students according to what I’m reading in the article) to “find time to vote in their home ridings before the school bells start ringing, and again at the Thanksgiving break.” Really? Uni students will go home during the holidays to vote. That seems unlikely to me.
  • Limited face time between voters and their local candidates.
    • Face time might actually increase with a longer campaign. If you’re like me, though. I don’t want to talk to anyone at my doorstep about politics. I’m not interested in the staged smile and the handshake. I’ll just research the issues. Thank you.
  • Election coverage and punditry focuses on mainstream issues; no time to address minority voter issues.
    • Perhaps “by week eight or nine, the public broadcaster might exhaust their usual suspects sources and seek out alternate the points of view from Aboriginals, visible minorities, and francophone Canadians.” That is possible, but the mainstream media is the mainstream media. They will focus on what brings ratings and viewers to their outlets. The little issues, although just as important, I think will still be on the wayside for the most part. That’s the cynic in me.

In the end, the long election campaign could cost Canadian taxpayers a lot of money.  Here’s some of the quotes from the Toronto Star article.

Elections Canada will have to ramp up its operation. The federal agency estimates that a typical 37-day campaign costs roughly $375 million.

It’s not clear how much that bill will now increase, thanks to added salaries for employees preparing for the election, rent for electoral offices across the country, and more. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation has estimated the tally could approach $500 million.

Yep. Elections Canada needs to spend money every day of the campaign. The longer the campaign, the more money must be spent.

Until recently, every political campaign had a $25-million spending limit, regardless of a campaign’s length.

Now, because of changes contained in the Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act, passed last year, that hard-line limit no longer exists. Parties’ spending limits can now be increased if the campaign is longer than the 37-day minimum; for each extra day, the limit is increased by 1/37th, or $675,000.

Tallied up, an 11-week campaign now allows parties to spend more than $50 million.

Egads. Not more TV and radio attack ads. I’m already fed up with attack ads that happen outside of election campaigns. Now the parties have more money to throw into producing these ads.

Certainly, I’d be happy to have less electoral advertising, especially of the negative variety. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and never tells me what a candidate really stands for. I’m happy I don’t have cable TV. This way, I won’t be exposed to as much of the TV ads. However, election ads will be plentiful on the Internet, on the radio, and in the newspaper. I still access my info through those media in some meaningful way.

The other thing I dread, and has started already, is the onslaught of phone calls. There are phone calls from the pollsters and phone calls from the parties themselves. 11 weeks of daily phone calls from all these folks is going to make me one very unhappy Canadian.

One thought on “A Long 11-week Federal Election Campaign – Good or Bad?

  1. I really wonder how many folks under 40 actually have “home phones” or watch “the news”… Those aspects probably will have limited effect in that demographic. Social network engagement will be super important and that sort of thing can turn on a dime. We’ll see what happens… I do however know that I won’t be seeing TV ads, I won’t hear radio ads and my home phone won’t be ringing to tell me about much of anything…

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