University of Saskatchewan political studies professor says the thought of a longer election campaign is causing headaches for citizens and organizations alike.
Joe Garcea predicts real campaigning won’t get underway until after the Labour Day long weekend because most Canadians are out enjoying their summer vacations.
However, even if candidates won’t ramp the campaigns into high gear for a few weeks, an early writ drop will still cost taxpayers more, despite grinding government to a near halt.
“I think there’s going to be a public backlash,” Garcea said. “(Taxpayers) will understand that government is doing less and yet the taxpayers are going to be picking up a larger portion of the bill.”
Historically campaigns last 38 days, but if Prime Minister Stephen Harper drops the writ Sunday – as he’s widely expected to do – the period would be extended to 11 weeks with an election on Oct. 19.
A longer campaign period means parties will be allowed to spend more money, a portion of which will be reimbursed by taxpayers.
Once parliament is dissolved, bills that have not received Royal Assent are scrapped. They must be reintroduced in the new session and start the process over. Because parties don’t want to show overt favouritism during campaign periods, many bills, funding announcements and other work, will be dropped along with the writ.
“There will be groups that will begrudge the fact that there’s such an election campaign because things that they hoped could have been and should have been done will not be able to be done,” Garcea said.
The Conservative Party announced several funding boosts, including expanding the universal child care benefit to allow families to keep more of their own money for every toddler and preschooler they have – signs that experts say mean an election campaign is near.
Saskatchewan also received funding for the Saskatoon Health Region and Sask Polytechnic last week.
Garcea said he also predicts opposition parties will use the long election campaign as an election issue as soon as the writ is dropped.
“I think the other parties are going to ride that horse for all it’s worth and say ‘here’s a case of a government that’s more focused on its political interest than the public interest, and is wasting money that it shouldn’t be wasting,” Garcea said.
With files from News Talk’s David Kirton
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