Elections Canada is a well-oiled machine. It’s a neutral and non-partisan operation. Never does anyone question the outcome of a federal election.
Like any strong organization which has a major task once every four to five years, changes are always made so the next event is better than the one previous.
In the case of Elections Canada, a change was made to something that was working.
It was the candidate’s deposit.
To discourage fringe candidates or people running simply for five minutes of fame, a cash deposit was required.
It was something along the lines of everyone putting $1,000 down upfront and it would be refunded for all candidates receiving five per cent of the vote or more.
The Greens, for example, although finishing third or fourth in many ridings, almost always got their deposit back.
Fringe and non-serious candidates, to be blunt, are a huge pain in the butt.
We know this having organized all-candidate forums.
We understand the “any boy or girl can grow up to be prime minister,” but how realistic is it that a party nobody has ever heard of will have someone elected?
In the case of independents, it takes an all-star name like Jody Wilson-Raybould to capture the public’s imagination.
Fringe and joke candidates divert attention from the front-runners. At candidate forums, they take up extra time at the microphone. Many will say, “I don’t know, but if elected, I’m willing to learn.” That’s hardly helping a voter make an informed decision.
The deposit idea is also used in most provinces in Canada for their provincial elections.
It hasn’t happened in municipal elections — at least not yet. It should.
In Kelowna in 2014, there were 40 candidates running for city council. In Penticton in 2018, there were 25. This is a huge advantage for incumbents.
For serious candidates — the ones who study the issues, purchase advertising and lawn signs and who actually campaign — they’re getting lost in the shuffle.
Independents and new parties have their place, but they need to put their money where their mouth is.
Hopefully Elections Canada brings this back.