Election spending differs

In Canada, we are gearing up for an election in October.
Various news agencies constantly are polling households each evening to determine which of the three parties—Liberal, NDP, or Conservative—would have your vote if you were going to the polls the following day.
The results are published and the news media’s political specialists pore over the numbers with magnifying glasses trying to determine who is ahead and who is behind at a moment in time.
They look for trends in hope they can predict the outcome four months out.
One might think that the election is the most important event impacting the lives of Canadians at any moment in time. Canadians, by and away, seem immune to the rise and fall of any party at this time.
It is doubtful that Canadians will begin paying any attention to the federal election until Oct. 1. I doubt Canadians even care that an election is right around the corner.
If we compare ourselves with the United States, the presidential election is well underway. It is difficult to determine just how many Republican presidential candidates there are (the number will grow to 12 by today).
The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has a front-runner Hillary Clinton and three other declared candidates. That number also may rise in the coming months.
The U.S. presidential election is 17 months away. Running a campaign for almost a year-and-a-half is an expensive process. The successful candidates can be expected to each raise more than $1 billion through to election day.
Compare that to Canada. In the last election (2011), the three major parties were limited to a total of $21 million for campaign expenses.
Individuals are limited to donating $1,200 towards candidates in a federal election after the writ is called, and could contribute another $1,200 to the party in any calendar year.
In the U.S., an individual can contribute $2,600 to a candidate, $10,000 to state, district, and local parties in a calendar year, and $32,400 to the national party.
The money spent on elections by candidates is vastly different between the two countries.
In Canada, candidates must record all expenses during elections. These include campaign literature, advertising, posters, office rentals, transportation expenses (even the use of one’s own vehicle), office equipment, and more.
In Canada in the last election, the total amount any candidate was allowed to spend varied between $69,635 in P.E.I. to $134,352 in Oak Ridges-Markham, Ont.
In Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding, the total a winning candidate was allowed to spend in 2008 was $80,937.
Candidates just don’t have the same amount of money to spend that their counterparts south of the border do.
So over the next 17 months, our U.S. TV channels will be filled with lots of negative ads. By comparison, because our candidates’ budgets are so much smaller, and the actual campaigning time is reduced to a short period, our candidates will hold on to their cash until the final three weeks before the election.
It is at that point that Canadians will be excited about the coming election.
Enjoy your summer, and be sure to grab all the free burgers and hotdogs the candidates will be serving up over the next three months.

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