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Was the federal election worth the $600 million spent?

After a $600 million dollar federal election in the middle of a pandemic, the political landscape in Ottawa has barely changed, causing many to ask, “was it worth it?” Nigel Nelwove reports.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – After a federal election that didn’t lead to much change in the make-up of Parliament in the nation’s capital, many people are asking whether it was worth it and what else that money could have been spent on.

“Literally anything,” opined David Moscrop, a columnist for the Washington Post based in Ottawa. “Miniature flags for every Canadian. Painting the sidewalks red. I mean, literally anything.”

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The snap election, called by Justin Trudeau two years earlier than scheduled in an attempt to turn his minority Liberal government into a majority, was the most expensive in modern Canadian history. It had a price tag of over $600 million.

Moscrop feels instead of spending money on the election, those taxpayer dollars could have been spent on some election promises made on the campaign trail, such as dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic or addressing climate change.

“I know people who say, ‘Well, it’s never a waste when you’re spending money on elections.’ Strictly speaking, I suppose that’s true,” Moscrop said. “But the fact is, it was an unnecessary election and we could have kept Parliment going for another six months, year or 18 months during the pandemic. The money could have gone towards any number of other things. It’s an occasional expense, not a structural expense that we have to pay for every year. It’s a subset of a broader problem, which was the election was unnecessary.”

Efforts spent on campaigning across the country could have been re-directed, he argued.

“And that includes shutting down government, effectively, or slowing it to a crawl during a pandemic and not being able to pass legislation and not being able to cooperate across party lines to deal with the pandemic. I joke about spending it on literally anything, but the fact is, it would have been better spent on any number of things.”

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In addition to the money spent on the election, Moscrop feels another issue is it put everything else on hold.

“The issue is the opportunity costs of the election. The time it took, the energy it took, the focus it took, which could have been much better spent on, again, managing the pandemic, managing the crisis in Afghanistan, dealing with climate change. Not just necessarily paying for these things, but giving them the attention they needed. The Liberal Party thought they could win a majority and that’s why we had six weeks of this.”

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