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Longer federal election campaign would cost taxpayers

Posted in Canada, Talking Politics

Published on July 31, 2015 with No Comments

It’s not just political parties that will be spending money if Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces federal election weeks earlier than necessary. Taxpayers will be shelling out big bucks, too — millions in extra administrative costs and tens of millions more in rebates to parties and candidates for their inflated election expenses. That would make for an 11-week campaign, the longest federal campaign since 1926 and more than twice the five weeks typically allotted for campaigns in recent times.

Elections Canada estimates that a campaign this fall of 37 days — the minimum required by law — would cost roughly $375 million to administer.

Each party running a full slate of candidates is entitled to spend a maximum of about $25 million for a five-week campaign; each candidate an average of about $100,000.

But, under the recently passed Fair Elections Act, those spending limits will increase by 1/37 for each day a campaign exceeds 37 days. That’s an extra $675,000 per day for each party’s national campaign, an additional $2,700 per day for their candidates.

A campaign that is double the minimum length would effectively double the spending limits and, theoretically, double the amount of money parties and candidates stand to be reimbursed — by taxpayers — when it’s all over.

Parties are entitled to rebates of up to 50 per cent of their eligible election expenses; candidates up to 60 per cent.

The major parties are promising to spend the maximum allowed, or very close to it. However, few candidates will likely be able to afford to take full advantage of increased spending limits, making it hard to estimate how much their rebates could go up.

Still, the rebates will undoubtedly be considerably higher than the rebates handed out to parties and candidates after the five-week election campaign in 2011. Elections Canada estimates that tab topped $60 million.


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