While balancing the budget is one of the biggest debates of the 2015 federal election, taxpayers will be stuck with paying for the richest campaign in Canadian history.
This week, the Canadian government posted a fiscal-year budget surplus for the first time in over half a decade.
Sept. 14 was supposed to be the day the campaign period began, but instead the government announced the $1.9 billion surplus amidst the longest election campaign period in modern history.
“This is the first time in six years that the Conservatives have managed to balance the budget,” says Lorraine Sigurdson, Pat Martin’s campaign manager. Martin is a long time MP in Winnipeg Centre and the incumbent NDP candidate in the riding.
“The whole thing seems either very coincidental, or planned, but I don’t think this will fool most people. If they’re such good fiscal managers, why did it take them so long?”
While the government finally sees the surplus they’ve so desperately been waiting for, others argue there are ulterior motives.
“This surplus is too pumped up and convenient,” says Jim Woods, 54, a resident of Winnipeg Centre. “I think they have ways of manipulating the budget, and making things sound the way they want.”
A longer campaign period means more cost to everyone.
Parties must pay for additional office rent, and extra funding for advertising.
All the parties’ expenses across the 338 ridings in Canada will increase by 221 per cent, or an additional $685,000 per day, according to a report by the Toronto Star.
This brings the total of respective party expenditures to an estimated $53 million, with varied levels of spending for each party.
This pales in comparison to the $500 million bill that will fall on the shoulders of Canadian taxpayers, according to the Canadian Taxpayer Federation.
“Today speaks to the Conservative’s attitude overall,” says Florence Kiansky, 71, a resident of Winnipeg South Centre. “Whether it’s fraudulent senators, or timing of information being released – it’s always about what’s convenient for them.”
Under Canadian law, federal elections are to be held at least once every four calendar years, or if government loses the confidence of parliament. The last federal election was held in 2011, when the Conservative’s won 159 of 308 seats, enabling them to form a majority government.
Prior to the campaign period, the NDP was the official opposition with 95 seats, while the Liberal Party had 36.
Recently the NDP approached the Liberals to form a coalition government, but Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau, quickly nullified the idea.
A coalition can be achieved when two (or more) opponents, who make up fewer seats than the government, band together to oppose the government.
Bloc Quebecois, Green Party, and Forces et Démocratie (Forces and Democracy) previously rounded out the opposition parties in Canada’s parliament.
This is one in a series of federal election campaign stories completed by Journalism Major students in Red River College’s Creative Communications program. Click here to read more of their articles.