Bill C-279: Time to end limitless campaigns
The previous Conservative government, through its Fair Elections Act, changed the rules to so that spending limits in an election campaign would be increased in accordance with the length of the electoral period. Specifically, spending limits are allowed to increase by 1/37 for each day a campaign exceeds 37 days, which translates into an extra $675,000 per day for each party’s national campaign and an additional $2,700 per day for their candidates.
This change allowed the Conservatives to call a 78-day election, one of the longest in modern Canadian history, and assured that affluent parties like theirs could spend millions more on round-the-clock attack ads and robo-calls.
Prior to the changes, the spending limits were set regardless of the length of the election period. In 2011, political parties could spend up to $21 million, while during the 78-day campaign of 2015 parties could spend up to $55 million – a bar that only the cash-flush Conservative and Liberal parties could come close to reaching. It also meant that Elections Canada had to spend more money than ever before in order to conduct the election. Taxpayers found themselves on the hook for $443 million, over $150 million more than it cost to hold the 2011 campaign.
New Democrats fought against these changes, which opened the door to US-style big-spending and marathon election campaigns in Canada.
The Liberal Government has now created a Parliamentary committee on electoral reform to examine how Canadians will elect their governments in the future, and New Democrats are coming up with solutions to make our electoral system fairer.
Bill C-279 would limit the length of an election period to 46 days, ensuring that the spending cap for political parties is not so high that it disadvantages the other parties.
Capping the length of election campaigns will also limit the constant barrage of TV and radio ads that Canadians are subject to during extra-long campaigns, save taxpayers’ money, and prevent voters from losing interest in the political process as campaigns drag on for longer periods.
As we examine changes to our electoral process, it is not enough to just change the way we elect our representatives. We must also ensure that there is fairness in the system and that all parties compete on a level playing field. This means preventing the large parties from lengthening election campaigns in a bid to spend vast quantities of money from their wealthy donors. Money distorts the ability for all people to have an equal voice in an election, and Bill C-279 seeks to remedy this by placing a reasonable limit on election campaigns.
Show your support!
Help support Bill C-279 by signing the petition here!
You can also submit paper petition signtures by downloading and signing the PDF file below, and get your friends to sign too! Signatures can be mailed, postage free (no stamp required!) to the following address:
Alistair MacGregor, MP
House of Commons