The 2019 election that cost approximately $504 million was by far Canada’s most costly election. What makes this more eye-popping is that the 2019 election was a 40-day campaign compared to the 78-day race in 2015 which cost $443 million.
This uptick in spending on elections has to do with upgrades Elections Canada has made to its computer system, especially given the high possibility of cyberattacks that could compromise our elections and by extension the integrity of our democratic process.
The report notes there were no significant cyberthreats to fall’s federal election.
There are new limits that have been put into place. Political parties’ now must operate under a $2.05 million limit for partisan advertising in the three-and-half months leading to an election call. Registered third parties must work under an $1.02-million limit in the same time frame. Parties face financial penalties, including imprisonment, if rules are breached.
The government defended the changes as necessary to ensure a level playing field in the months before and during an election campaign. Opposition parties argued the amendments would tilt the scale in favour of the incumbent Liberals.
One concern raised by the opposition was over fundraising, an area where Conservatives have long held an advantage. In the beginning of the 2019 election year, the Conservatives’ fundraising haul doubled what the Liberals earned in the same period.
There was an uptick in the number of people who ran in the last election with 2,146 registered candidates, up from 1,792 names on ballots four years ago.
That number can be traced to former MP Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party who fielded 315 candidates in 338 ridings.
One contentious issue that fueled heated debate in the Senate in the lead-up to the election was concern over changes to expat voting rules. The government’s elections reform bill extended the right to vote to Canadians living outside of the country, repealing the previous rule that stripped voting rights from those who have been expats for more than five years.
The change prompted a significant boost to the number of Canadians registered on the International Register of Electors from 16,000 four years ago to 55,000.
Despite the marked increase, 34,144 Canadian voters exercised their voting rights from overseas.
More details related to political party and third-party finances have yet to be released.
Elections Canada’s final report relating to third party and political party activities is expected to be tabled in the fall.
Elections Canada is working to ready itself for the next election as soon as April 2021. Officials told reporters they’re keeping in mind that minority governments typically last 18-24 months while they prepare for the next election.
Extended hours for advance voting and the costs associated with staffing those polling stations and the expansion of on-campus polling stations also increased expenses.
The next election could cost even more when all expenses are tallied. -CINEWS