SET ELECTION DATES
In 2001, British Columbia became the first province in Canada to adopt legislation setting provincial election dates, and in 2005, it was the first province to hold an election on a set date.
The federal government and Ontario, Newfoundland/Labrador, PEI, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have since adopted similar legislation, setting a four-year timeframe for elections to be held (the month varies). This is similar to what is in place for municipal elections in Manitoba and many other jurisdictions.
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce believes there are a number of advantages to having set election dates:
Fairness: A governing party would not be able to time an election to exploit conditions favourable to its re-election. Fixed election dates level the playing field, provide greater fairness for all concerned and reduce public cynicism about political motives
Transparency and Predictability: Fixed election dates bring certainty to the voting process and provide transparency as to when general elections will be held. Rather than decisions about election dates being made behind closed doors, general election dates are public knowledge.
Improved Governance: Fixed election dates allow for better policy planning, enabling agendas to be set out well in advance and making work more efficient. Fixed election dates allow for better planning by election officials and help ensure voters’ lists are up-to-date.
Higher Voter Turnout: Ensuring elections are not held in the winter or summer makes the voting process more accessible, particularly to students and seniors. Citizens can plan in advance to participate in the electoral process.
Candidate Participation: People who would like to run for public office can better prepare for the life changes required.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
- The Province amend the Legislative Assembly Act to set fixed elections every four years with a preference for it be held on the second Tuesday in May, not withstanding motions of non-confidence votes.
- The Province make a provision, should there be a conflict with a day of cultural or religious significance or a federal election, for the Chief Election Officer to recommend an alternate polling day.
Adopted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, January 2008