Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/5/2012 (3439 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Selinger government wants to spare Manitobans the prospect of living through simultaneous federal and provincial election campaigns in the fall of 2015.
It introduced legislation Thursday to move the province's fixed election date. Rather than heading to the polls on Oct. 6, 2015, Manitobans would be voting for their next provincial government on April 19, 2016 -- 41/2 years into the NDP's mandate.
Government House Leader Jennifer Howard said the province will stick with the original October date if Ottawa backs away from plans to hold its election that fall. (The now-scheduled federal vote would be less than two weeks after the provincial one.) But so far, the Harper Tories haven't indicated they will budge from that timeline.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall's government has already passed similar legislation to avoid the conflict with the next federal election. Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories are also in the same bind.
"Premier Wall had written to the prime minister asking the federal government to move their election, and if they don't, then the (Saskatchewan) legislation will kick in. We've done a similar thing here," Howard said.
But Bill 33, a 141-page document tabled Thursday afternoon, does more than change Manitoba's election date in the event of a conflict with Ottawa's electoral timeline.
It also attempts to grapple with the thorny issue of public funding of provincial parties, which has become a political football in Manitoba. Under the current law, political parties can apply each year for a government subsidy equivalent to $1.25 for every vote they received in the previous provincial election. The provision accompanied a ban on union and corporate donations to political parties.
However, of the three major political parties, only the Liberals have ever collected the subsidy since it came into effect three years ago.
The Conservatives, calling it a "vote tax," have always declined to apply for the $200,000 they've been owed (based on 2007 election results), and the NDP has followed suit. The governing party has eschewed some $250,000 a year.
Howard said Thursday the new bill would leave the matter of how public subsidies are paid to a new independent commissioner. "This is effectively taking the decisions about public financing (of political parties) out of the hands of politicians and giving it to an independent process," she told reporters.
Bill 33's other major provision is to require the province's chief electoral officer to investigate whether it would be a good idea for Manitoba to establish a permanent voters list.
The main reason the new bill is so lengthy is the government has rewritten the entire Election Financing Act in plain language. Howard said that was done to make it easier for the many party volunteers to follow its provisions.
Conservative house leader Mavis Taillieu declined to comment on the bill until she and her colleagues had the chance to study it.
However, Brian Pallister, so far the only candidate in the race to replace Hugh McFadyen as leader of Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives, was quick to criticize the NDP on the proposed timing of the next provincial election. He said the government should have moved the vote to the spring of 2015 instead of the spring of 2016. The NDP won its fourth consecutive majority government last past October.
"They can't give themselves another six months in office," Pallister said. "They didn't run on that mandate."
But Howard said the move has nothing to do with extending the NDP's reign. "It's not unusual for a political party in Manitoba to have a 41/2-year term," she said. "This term will be 41/2 years. The last term was 41/2 years. The last two terms of the Filmon government was 41/2 years. It's not unusual."
-- with files from Bruce Owen
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.