Campaigns continues to gather momentum across the country

The October election day may be many weeks away, but several local people have already tossed their hats into the ring to land a post in Ottawa.

These include to date for Red Deer – Mountain View incumbent Earl Dreeshen (PC), City Councillor Paul Harris (NDP), school trustee Dianne Macaulay (NDP), Evan Bedford (NDP), James Walper (Libertarian) and Mason Sisson (Greens).

For the Red Deer – Lacombe riding, the incumbent is Conservative Blaine Calkins, Jeff Rock (Liberals), Doug Hart (NDP) and Katherine Swampy (NDP).

Canadians will go to the polls on Oct. 19th.

Meanwhile, it’s difficult to tell following last week’s forum who is really at the forefront so far. It depends which media source you turn true. As far as Alberta goes, it’s been fairly quiet – with the focus seemingly on other parts of the country.

There is a steady stream of campaign stops by the Prime Minister in Ontario so far, but of course he will make his way out west as election day nears.

In past elections, the Conservatives have tended not to worry too much about Alberta and putting in appearances, but with the recent provincial election showing a sweeping change across the political landscape, we can only assume they won’t be taking the province for granted so much anymore.

We will likely see more of NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau out this way, as they probably see more hope for a breakthrough with voters this time around.

In total, the candidates have 11 weeks to spread their messages across the country – an unusually lengthy period of time, considering most campaigns run about 37 days or so.

There has been some outrage amongst the public over the early election call – everything from the soaring costs of calling the election early to an attitude of ‘what’s the point’ of calling it in the middle of summer and on a long weekend to boot.

However, we’ve noticed that there does seem to be growing interest and conversation happening in the community even in the so-called ‘dog days’ of summer. This is particularly the case with social media, where everyone can be a commentator at any moment. Opinions and comments flow freely – which can be a great way to launch discussion and debate.

Obviously, people are engaging and are looking for something of a change. Gone are the days when political leaders could almost predict which way a given province would go.

But there are still frustrations over what this campaign will ultimately cost Canadians.

According to CBC, during a 37-day election period, each party can spend a maximum of $25 million. For each additional day, that means an extra $675,000 can be spent which would see parties able to spend more than $50 million.

The cost to taxpayers rises with a longer campaign as well. It has been reported that a typical five-week campaign costs about $375 million. Parties are then reimbursed for half the money they shell out during the course of the campaign – which falls on taxpayers.

It’s certainly unusual for campaigns to be this long – according to The Canadian Press, only Canada’s first two election campaigns were longer. The 1867 campaign lasted 81 days, while the 1872 campaign went for 96 days. At that time, voting was staggered over the country for a period of several months. The longest race in recent history was a 74-day campaign back in 1926.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see, in our ridings, how things play out. It is a big change for our area with the development of two new ridings – Red Deerians will ultimately be led by two MPs and sharing that particular MP with sizable rural ridings. Balancing the needs of both will no doubt be challenging for whoever lands the posts this fall.