Canada's first election campaign lasted 81 days in 1867 and the one in 1872, 96 days. These were held in the days when transportation was limited( the new railway, horseback and wagons), and thus acceptable. In 1926 the campaign was 74 days ( this was a very controversial election, forced by the defeat of the King government, the disagreement between Prime Minister King and GG Byng and scandal). This election, which will be held on Oct.19, 2015, will see a 78 days campaign which cost tens of millions more ( some estimate between $150- $200 million more).
Elections Canada had estimated that a 37-day campaign would cost around $375 million. This campaign is twice as long and so rental of office, payment to workers, payments to political parties for additional expenses etc. will add millions more and the taxpayers will have to shoulder the burden. The powers of Elections Canada have been limited by recently passed laws and some voters, thousands, ( chiefly the elderly, the young and First Nations, more likely to vote for Liberals and NDP and not Ref/Cons) may be prevented from voting, because of the new ID requirement. Elections Canada will be limited in sending voter information and investigating electoral fraud also. This was all done to enhance Harper's chances of being re-elected, a setback for Canadian democracy.
Harper is expected to run a very scripted campaign, where media access /scrutiny will be limited and attendance will be tightly controlled by vetting ( as happened in the Mount Royal launching, where security was very tight and those who attended were vetted vin advance). This is to make sure that Harper does not face hostile crowds, answer probing questions but face friendly audiences, selected by his handlers. That is why, for instance, he has refused to attend the debate set up by the "consortium"...CBC, CTV etc. He wants to control the news emanating from his campaign, but this will backfire as the media will have a field day with their own analyses, reports and campaign gossips and leaks.
Harper wants this campaign not to focus on scandals associated with his office (PMO), his various appointees, like Duffy and others and the upcoming trials, on del Mastro a former spokesman who is in prison on electoral fraud, on Wright and the $90,000 cheque to Duffy; or on the crumbling economy and looming recession, unemployment, trade deficit ( he was hoping to announce a signed TPP), slow economic growth, environmental policies/ climate change, missing First Nations women and the Truth and Reconciliation report and recent laws, like C-51. He wants to focus instead on "risks" and "security" and personal attacks on Trudeau ( which succeeded in the last two Liberal leaders) on grounds of incompetence and inexperience. He will go after Mulcair as a "tax and spend" socialist. The attacks will be vicious. personal and culled from half-truths and innuendos.
Mulcair, who is leading in the polls, will emphasise the need for "change", child care, on the poor performance on the economy and environment, on the various laws limiting democracy on Senate reform if not abolishment and foreign policy. Trudeau will talk about the "middle class'', taxing, the wealthy and on his "vision" of Canada. More specific details will be made as the campaign rolls on.
The real campaign will start after Labour Day. In the meantime, parties will try to stake their grounds, tests what issues will play well, do polling, targeting specific groups and focusing on areas of strength.
There are 338 seats, with Ontario (15), Alberta(6) and B.C.(6), Quebec (3) adding seats and so the campaigns will be centered in these places. In Ontario, the Greater Toronto area (905), will be very important. The NDP victory in the recent Alberta election may make the NDP more acceptable and remove some of the concerns ( if Conservative Alberta can vote NDP, why not give them a try). There will e a three-way fight in BC, which has a Liberal provincial government. There are 51 seats, where the First Nations vote can make a difference and if they show up to vote, it will mean trouble for Harper. The 1 million or so Ukrainians, especially in the West were strongly courted by Harper as well as the Jewish vote, in certain ridings like Mount Royal ( which used to be solidly Liberal). The Ref/Con hold 159 seats, the NDP 95; the Liberals 36; the Green 2; the Bloc 2; Force et Democratie 2, Independent 8; vacant 4. 170 is needed for majority.
All in all, it will be interesting to watch as the campaigns unfold. Expect to be suffocated by polls and expect the campaign, especially by the Ref/Cons to be particularly vicious and poisonous as they will try to run away from their record and instead make a "personality" issue.