Many papers – including this one – have reported that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are planning to start this year’s election six weeks earlier than expected but keep to the fixed election date of October 19th. Whether it’s true or not, it does raise a lot of questions.
· Do Canadians want a longer election period?
· Why are the Harper Conservatives considering a longer election period?
· What does a longer election period mean for the public, campaign volunteers and candidates?
There are no simple answers to any of these questions, but the possibility of starting the election campaign on the Civic Holiday weekend got me thinking.
The Civic Holiday is a time for people to be with their families and loved ones. While we’ve been campaigning steadily for some time now, we’ve asked all our local volunteers to take Sunday and Monday off to be with their families and enjoy summer. Family should always come first.
Even if the Conservatives call the election early, the public and my volunteers should enjoy the long weekend break with their loved ones.
If the election is called early I believe a 78-day election period would be a cynical move by the Conservatives. It would give them a chance to out-spend the other political parties under new rules brought in by the Conservative (Un)Fair Elections Act. Welcome to big money in local politics. And it’s not just Conservative donor money, either. A longer election means higher costs for us, the taxpayers. Our tax dollars will have to fund Elections Canada offices and staff for twice as long as usual. That’s just not a fiscally responsible choice. .
If the Harper Conservatives call an election this long weekend, it would be the longest election period since 1872, when candidates and leaders had to travel by train or horse and buggy to campaign. In the information age we all live in now 78 days is just too long, too expensive and completely unnecessary.
These cynical tricks made me proud of our local campaign. I don’t rely on big money and procedural tricks to get my message out. Instead I rely on dedicated volunteers, inexpensive campaigning, grassroots donations and hard work in the community each and every year – whether an election is on or not.
Hopefully the news reports are wrong and the Conservatives won’t call an unnecessary summer-long election. Hopefully they’ll choose to debate ideas instead of over-spending taxpayer dollars for a needlessly long campaign. Either way, I’m ready and I invite the community to choose a hopeful, optimistic team with a concrete plan to turn things around instead of the increasingly big-money, American-style politics that we are sadly growing to expect.
– Marc Laferriere
Brantford-Brant Federal NDP Candidate