Record-long campaign adds pressure

It’s anticipated that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have Parliament dissolved today, kicking off a 78-day campaign

One of Canada’s longest election campaigns could be underway.

It’s anticipated that Prime Minister Stephen Harper will have Parliament dissolved today, kicking off a 78-day campaign before the Oct. 19 federal election.

“It’s kind of interesting,” said Colin Mayes, retiring Okanagan-Shuswap MP.

Under law, campaigns must be a minimum of 37 days long, but there is no maximum length. The longest was 74 days in 1926.

If the writ is dropped today, Mayes admits candidates will be under a lot of pressure over 78 days.

“The candidates will have to pace themselves,” he said.

“But in August, people are on vacation and not paying attention to politics. There will be a more intensified campaign at the end of September and early October.”

There has been some suggestion that a longer campaign favours the ruling Conservatives because it has significant money in the war chest compared to the other parties. However, Mayes disagrees.

“There are maximum amounts that you can spend,” he said.

“Once the campaign starts, third-party advertising is limited and that may help our party so we’re fighting the established parties and not special interest groups.”

In Okanagan-Shuswap, the candidates are Conservative Mel Arnold, Liberal Cindy Derkaz, Green Chris George and Jacqui Gingras, with the NDP.