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Dan-in-Ottawa

Writ will soon be dropped

In less than two months, the writ will be dropped and the official campaign for the October federal election will begin.

I refer to the "official" campaign getting underway because by all accounts active campaigning has already begun.

What does "dropping the writ" 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.

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 30 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 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?

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About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the shadow minister of innovation, science, economic development and internal trade, and sits on the standing committee on finance.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

In British Columbia, Dan has been consistently one of the lowest spending MPs on office and administration related costs despite operating two offices to better serve local constituents.

Dan is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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