The first fixed-date election in Canadian history is just around the corner, but some observers are raising concerns about overspending because of a law they say is flawed. When the Conservatives introduced a fixed election date nine years ago, political financing rules were not adjusted accordingly, says Elections Canada boss Marc Mayrand. “We must not be blind,” said Mayrand. “As much as it is easier for Elections Canada to plan for the election, it’s just as easy for political parties and third parties” to plan their spending before the election. Those expenses generally go “beyond the rules outlined in the electoral law,” he added.
The Harper government had a chance to close some of those loopholes when it examined the electoral law but opted to leave a “gaping hole,” says Thierry Giasson, a political science professor at Universite Laval. “The issue of pre-election spending was raised but the government consciously decided not to dwell on it,” said Giasson.
Election campaigns are organized 12 to 18 months in advance, but only expenses incurred during the official campaign period are capped, Giasson said.
A fixed-date election extends that period considerably — meaning weeks and months of unofficial campaigning not subject to rules, opposition MPs say.