By Carolyn Grant, Black Press
Though no official announcement has been made, national media has all but confirmed that Prime Minister Steven Harper will drop the writ, indicating the official start to the federal election campaign, on Sunday.
This will make it the longest election campaign in modern Canadian history.
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks says he has not been told anything officially.
“I only know what the media is reporting, I have not been told by the Party,” Wilks said Thursday morning. “The media seems pretty sure. They expect the writ to be dropped which will make for a long campaign.”
Wilks says that a fixed election date means the campaign has already begun in any event.
“Certainly the leaders have been campaigning since the beginning of the summer. I’ve been around the riding as have all the other identified candidates.”
If the writ drops, things will change for Wilks as he moves into campaign mode.
“I won’t be doing what I am today which is funding announcements,” he said. “I have more on Friday, in Revelstoke, Golden, Invermere, Canal Flats and Cranbrook. Once the writ drops the focus will be on the campaign.”
Green Party candidate Bill Green of Kimberley, says that the campaign is already well underway and the writ dropping won’t change that.
“I have been campaigning full-time since July 17th, and will continue to campaign as hard as I can until the election,” he said. “I have a very strong and dedicated campaign team. So whether the election campaign period officially starts over the coming long weekend or as late as mid-September makes no difference to our campaign.
“I know that the Conservative Party is looking to out-spend all of the other parties during the official campaign period, My focus is not on how much we can spend but, instead, on how much I am able to directly connect with Kootenay-Columbia voters. I also want to convince younger voters that their votes are important and will make a difference in this election. I find that many young voters are motivated by the Green Party message about voting for the positive changes we need to make through federal government action, including on climate change and building a new, green economy and green jobs.”
Liberal candidate Don Johnston says he is ready but very disappointed in the early dropping of the writ, particularly in terms of what it will cost the Canadian tax payer.
“I find it astounding that they would consider that length of campaign,” Johnston said. “Particularly over our Canadian summer when it’s difficult to connect with the public who are enjoying the last days of summer. It’s hard to understand how it contributed to quality conversations.”
Johnston says that the decision to go early adds $2.8 million each day to the cost of the election.
“You’re talking about $100 million over a campaign this long,” he said. “Political parties are eligible for rebates after the election based on spending. The Harper Conservatives rebate could be as much as $300,000 a day, paid for by the Canadian tax payer. It’s spending tax payer money to get Stephen Harper elected.
“It makes no sense. Everyone is already out campaigning because of the fixed election date. There’s no need to drop the writ this early.”
Johnston says an interesting side effect of the writ drop will be that disgraced senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau will all be back on the payroll.
“That’s just an interesting side effect of an unnecessary decision — disgraced and suspended senators back on the payroll the day the writ drops.”
NDP candidate Wayne Stetski said the early writ drop won’t change his campaign plan.
“I’ve been door knocking, talking with citizens across the riding, making sure I know what the people of this area think,” he said. “I don’t believe that Canadians want a longer election campaign, but Stephen Harper doesn’t care how people feel. I have to assume that he believes there is some advantage to his party to start the official election period in the middle of summer, and for Stephen Harper, every decision he makes is an attempt to gain political advantage.
“The NDP campaign team is strong in Kootenay Columbia and we’ve been working hard since the spring. Whether the writ is dropped this week or in September, our intention is to outwork Mr. Wilks every single day.”