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Stephen Harper 'gaming the system' with early election call, says former Elections Canada head PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Posted by Joan Russow
Saturday, 01 August 2015 10:15

Saturday August 01, 2015

Former Elections Canada head Jean-Pierre Kingsley said an earlier election call 'distorts' the electoral system.

Former Elections Canada head Jean-Pierre Kingsley said an earlier election call 'distorts' the electoral syste

"Canadians have said, $25 million is enough for you to run a campaign. Now we're going to be facing the possibility that it's going to be more than $50 million just to pump more ads our way."

Kingsley said it's no coincidence that only one party can afford to spend $50 million on a campaign.

"If (the Conservatives) are doubling it to fifty, it's because they can get to fifty," he said.

"Parties plan how much will be required to spend. The Conservatives are way ahead of the other two, so by doubling the amount, all of a sudden you've thrown a monkey wrench into all of that financial planning that's been going on."

"And that's what distorts the game for Canadians," Kingsley added. "That is what is happening to us. We're the electors here, and we're the ones who are going to be faced with the consequences of this thing."

Costly for taxpayers, Elections Canada 

The financial consequences of an 11-week campaign for the public could be significant because of the campaign rebate, which sees taxpayers subsidize 50 per cent of what the parties spend on a national campaign.

"That is what we, the people, the tax base, is going to feel here," Kingsley said.

The cost for Elections Canada will also be sizeable. Elections Canada estimates a 37-day campaign — the minimum required by law — would cost roughly $375 million to administer.

Kingsley said that price tag would not necessarily go up proportionately to a campaign time period that is nearly double the typical length.

"Significant elements of [the estimated cost] are doubled, or more than doubled," he said. "We're talking about tens of millions of dollars the chief electoral officer will need extra." 

Some of the extra costs associated with a longer election include paying the salaries for returning officers, deputy returning officers and employees preparing for the election, as well as rent for electoral offices in each of the country's 338 ridings.

'Level playing field gets it in the neck'

Under the Canada Elections Act, parties can only borrow from a financial institution, Kingsley said.

"Financial institutions like to be paid back the monies that they lend you. They like to charge you interest. And they're not going to lend you more money if you've already exhausted your line of credit."

That means parties will be disadvantaged politically because they can't afford to keep up with bigger spenders, Kingsley added.

"What about the disadvantage this imposes upon, for example, the Green Party?" he said. 

"Now they're facing foes who are going to be shooting twice as hard at them as they were before. It destroys the fairness that is at the base of our system.

"That level playing field gets it in the neck."

 

PEJ COMMENT

The Governor General should respect the spirit THE DOCTRINE OF LEGITIMATE EXPECTATION and refuse to allow Harper to change the period of the election

The Doctrine of legitimate Expectations has the following components

Not breaking and undertaking as one pleases

Compatibility with public duty

Public interest may be better served by honouring their undertaking than by breaking it

Fulfilling the expectation must assist in performing rather than inhibit the performance of its statutory duty

 

The purpose of having fixed election dates was to remove the unfairness inherent in the   provision, given to the Prime Minister, to select the election date which used to always  benefit the incumbent governing party. The ability to change the election campaign period would also benefit, the incumbent party.  And for that reason this change would compromise the fairness of an election. Citizens have a legitimate expectation that the principle of fairness of fixed election dates  would not be undermined by a change inthe fixed election Campaign period which would benefit the incumbent Party.

 On the CBC program, the House, the former Chief Election Officer, Jean Pierre Kingsley stated;

“This extension  of the Campaign distorts everything we have fought for”, and he added that it distorts the role of money in Politics. 

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 August 2015 10:25
 

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