Do you remember way back in 2015? Do you remember Stephen Harper taking a lot of flack for calling the election on August 2 even though the voting day wasn’t going to be held until October 19?
How dare he!
We were told that this was the longest election in Canadian history, that it was wrong, an affront to democracy. There were no shortage of people willing to blast Harper for calling the election.
And yet if you listened to him at the time he was clear. Harper said he was calling the election so that everyone was on the same playing field, so that there was no use of Parliamentary funds to campaign.
The House of Commons had stopped sitting in June, they would not come back until after the vote. So why pretend that the campaign wasn’t on?
It didn’t matter.
Harper was beaten up for that all through the campaign and still is to this day. How dare he call such a long election campaign?
Harper vs. Trudeau
Compare that to the current PM Justin Trudeau who is flying all over the country on your dime and doing what? Campaigning.
As I wrote in a column for Friday’s Toronto Sun, Trudeau is in full campaign mode on the government jet and on the government dime.
On Thursday, Trudeau flew to Montreal — no word on carbon offsets — aboard a government jet. He made an announcement about government funding for a subway extension before flying to London, Ontario for a festival opening and then a party fundraiser.
What is odd about the Montreal announcement is how and when it was made.
Parliament is no longer sitting and won’t resume sitting until after the election.
The subway funding wasn’t part of a budget promise back in March, so this is pretty much an election promise that has all the hallmarks of the Government of Canada making the announcement.
Trudeau has been flying across the country, as have his ministers and certain key MPs, to make or remake funding announcements. We have restrictions on Government of Canada advertising in what is now called the “pre-writ period” but no restrictions on government announcements.
Just like in 2015 the House will not resume sitting until after the election. Why on earth is it then okay for the PM to campaign on our dime?
The answer is that it isn’t ok, it never was.
Fixed election dates may require new rules
The system is being abused by the party in power. It is time for new rules.
I’m not normally one to call for more government regulation but this is unacceptable.
In the days before fixed election dates, which I have my own problems with in our system, the party in power was the only one that actually knew when the election was coming.
They would then spend weeks or months rolling out big promises and announcements, using the backing of government, before calling the election and telling voters that all those just promised goodies would be gone if you didn’t re-elect them.
Trudeau’s Montreal subway promise is nothing more than an election pledge. Sure he did it using government resources, government staff and government signage all around him but it was effectively a Liberal Party campaign promise.
In that case the Liberal Party should be paying for this and other such campaign stops.
Stop the charade, call the election, put all the parties on a level playing field.