OTTAWA – A campaign event in Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ riding last year had all the trappings of a funding announcement, raising eyebrows among bureaucrats who thought such activities were on hold until votes were cast.
The long-standing practice in Canada has traditionally been for the incumbent government to put off any announcements until after the campaign is over, so as not to exercise undue advantage over the opposition parties.
But Canada still does not have a modern, publicly accessible cabinet manual that outlines what is acceptable or not acceptable in the lead-up to an election and during the campaign.
Canadian constitutional experts say it’s high time that Prime Minister Stephen Harper draft one.
“The strong tradition in Canada has never been to make any spending announcements or to make any major appointments during an election campaign, that’s been the unwritten rule forever,” said David Zussman, director of the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a former wheel inside the Privy Council Office.
“But, since it’s not written down, and it’s not a policy, it’s not a law, it’s not a regulation, people are free basically to do what they feel is appropriate.”
Toews’ campaign stop during the 2011 election falls into something of a grey zone. Should announcements be made when it’s clear the government is about to fall? Where is the line drawn after the writ is dropped?
On March 22, 2011 — one day after a committee found the government in contempt of Parliament and the same day NDP Leader Jack Layton said he would not support the federal budget — Toews put out a press release outlining $160,000 in funding for programs in his riding under the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP).
The government fell three days later, following a motion of non-confidence related to the
... read the rest, if you wish , at article source