The federal election campaign is officially underway. Here’s what changes:
1. Spending limits.
The parties and candidates are limited in how much they can spend. Parties will be able to spend more than $50 million and candidates about $200,000, on average, based on changes to Canada’s election spending laws that increased the spending limits in the event of an extended campaign period.
2. Third-party campaigns.
Special interest groups or “third parties” who run advertising campaigns for or against a particular party, have to register with Elections Canada once they have spent $500 on election advertising. They are then limited in how much they can spend: More than $400,000 this year with an extended campaign period.
3. Government advertising comes to a halt.
Departments can only run ads if there is a legal obligation to do so, or the ads are related to public safety. No more ads touting tax measures in the federal budget.
4. MPs are no longer MPs, but ministers keep their titles.
The idea is that the government must still operate and play a caretaker role while a new Parliament is formed. Ministers are still ministers and the Speaker also maintains their role.
5. Parliamentary committees can no longer meet.
The only committees that can continue to meet are the internal economy committees of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Senate’s social affairs committee was scheduled to meet Aug. 10, but won’t now.
6. Poll reporting.
Journalists must observe a specific set of rules around the reporting of public opinion polls, including reporting on the questions being asked in the poll. And the CRTC requires broadcast outlets to provide equitable — not necessarily equal — treatment to all parties so they have a fair chance at paid and free advertising time.
7. Citizenship ceremonies.
Incumbent MPs and nominated candidates can no longer attend citizenship ceremonies, usually a spot to meet new voters.