In less than two months, the writ will be dropped and the official campaign for the October federal election will begin.
I referenced the "official" campaign getting underway because by all accounts active campaigning has already begun.
So, what does “dropping the writ” actually mean?
A writ is “dropped” when the Prime Minister presents the Governor General with an instrument of advice recommending the House of Commons be dissolved.
In turn the Governor General then issues a proclamation dissolving Parliament.
Previously there was no maximum length for a writ period until the passing of “Elections Modernization Act”, passed in this Parliament, that set that a maximum of length of fifty days.
Another change was the creation of a restricted pre-writ period that began back on June 30th of this year.
This newly created “pre-writ” period imposes restrictions, such as limits on advertising for political parties, prior to the official writ being dropped.
Previously spending limits were only imposed on political parties during the writ period.
How does this change things?
In the writ period the Government enters into, what is known in our Westminster form of government, as the “Caretaker Convention”.
The Caretaker Convention recognizes the underlying principle that government must still run, however the elected political side of government cannot use taxpayer provided resources or other powers of government in an effort to influence the election.
As an example, a Government Cabinet Minister or the Prime Minister could not fly, at taxpayer expense, to make major spending announcement or announce other changes in government policy intended for political gain.
When the Trudeau Liberal Government created the new “pre-writ” period, they ensured that the restrictions on expenses (such as advertising) only applies to political parties.
The Prime Minister and his Ministers are not subject to any spending restrictions on their political activities during the pre-writ period.
The Liberals also ensured that the Caretaker Convention would not apply during the pre-writ period.
Meaning that taxpayer resources can be used while the PM and his Ministers fly around Canada making funding announcements precisely intended for political gain.
Likewise government policies and project announcements can also be manipulated for partisan political purposes.
My question to you this week is one of fairness:
Do you believe that in addition to political parties, that this new pre-writ period should also equally apply to the Prime Minister and Cabinet?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.