Long Canadian election campaign risks voter anger, apathy

Mon Aug 3, 2015 4:17pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's long election campaign may maximize his party's funding advantage but it also risks angering voters as critics take aim at the cost to taxpayers.

The governing Conservatives on Sunday launched Canada's longest campaign since the 1870s, with Harper saying it would allow voters to better study platforms and that his opponents were already campaigning for the Oct. 19 vote.

But opposition parties charge the 11-week campaign will waste hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars because of partial government rebates for party spending.

That message was resonating with some voters.

In Montreal, Sylvie Charbonneau characterized the early call as a show of contempt.

"All the people I know, we are saying the same thing: it costs too much and it's really futile," she said on Monday, after Harper made a campaign stop near the city.

Pollster Nik Nanos said the cost issue alone was unlikely to drive votes but it could have a cumulative effect if voters also disagree over Harper's economic claims.

Harper, in power since 2006, touts his experience in steering the economy out of the financial crisis, but critics point out it shrank through much of the first half of 2015.   Continued...

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to supporters and employees at Spectra Premium during a campaign stop in Laval, Quebec, August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi