Shorter is sweet
By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 15, 2016
When the next round of Ontario municipal elections happen in 2018, the campaign period will be substantially shorter than it was in 2014.
And that will be a good thing.
The provincial government recently passed numerous amendments to the Municipal Elections Act.
Probably the most substantial of those changes is the shrinking of the campaign period by 120 days.
Previously, the earliest date to register as a candidate in a municipal election was the first day of the year, the deadline the second Friday in September. Now the earliest date for registration is May 1, with last call on the fourth Friday of July.
Elections themselves happen the fourth Monday of October.
There is simply no reason for municipal election campaigns to be as long as they’ve been.
Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey, a perennial political fixture in the county, put it very succinctly.
“If you can run a provincial or federal election in 34 days, surely you can run a municipal one in six months,” he said.
That’s difficult to refute. Notwithstanding the fact it comes from a man who’s been consistently elected to municipal office for a sum term that is longer than many of us have been alive.
“It’s insane,” Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin said of the previous campaign period. And one could make the argument that Devolin benefited from such a lengthy contest.
In 2014, both he and then-reeve Barb Reid declared their candidacy on the first day possible, while Minden Hills residents were still sleeping off their New Year celebrations.
Devolin went on to smash the incumbent in the election.
Look south of the border to see the circus that is created from a cruel and unusually lengthy election period. With murmurings and primaries included, American presidential elections last virtually half a term.
Honestly. How sick are you of hearing about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? And you don’t even live in that country.
The shortened campaign period still leaves candidates plenty of time to pound the proverbial pavement, to get their messages out to voters, including, importantly, seasonal residents.
(It should be noted that election signage is governed locally, with municipal bylaws generally allowing signs for a number of weeks leading up to the election date itself.)
It also gives councils more time to concentrate on the work they were elected to do. Council chambers have a tendency to morph into political theatres in election years.
The province has done right by shortening the municipal campaign period.
As for Trump and Clinton, there’s not much it can do about that. Is there?