Campaign spending limits lower in the North than many southern cities

Elections Canada released spending limits on how much federal election candidates can spend between now and election day. The limits for Northern ridings range from $202,000 in Nunavut to over $213,000 in the N.W.T.

Spending limits meant to reflect 'what it would cost to reach out and contact the electors'

Volunteers for NDP candidate Jack Hicks placed this sign on Iqaluit's breakwater in a bid to catch the eye of passing snowmobilers. Thanks to smaller populations in their federal ridings, election candidates in the territories will be allowed to spend less money than many of their southern counterparts. (Chris Windeyer/The Canadian Press)

Elections Canada released spending limits for each federal riding Tuesday.

That's the amount each candidate's campaign can spend between now and election day. The limits for Northern ridings range from $202,000 in Nunavut to over $213,000 in the NWT. Yukon's limit is a little more than $209,000.

But those limits are lower than many urban ridings in the south. That's because, according to Elections Canada, it costs more to reach more voters in ridings with more people.

"The theory is that this spending limit accounts for what it would cost to reach out and contact the electors," said Diane Benson, a spokesperson for Elections Canada.

"So of course it's going to be a slightly higher rate in dense urban centres that have a higher population than it would be in a more rural riding where there are fewer electors."

But the Canada Elections Act increases the limit for ridings with fewer voters than the national average. The act also increases the candidate's expenses limit in ridings where the number of voters per square kilometre is fewer than 10.

In addition, the act considers travel costs to be personal candidate expenses, which do not count toward the campaign spending limit. Up to 60 per cent of all of these costs can be reimbursed, as long as the candidate garners at least 10 per cent of the valid votes cast. 

The three territories are much smaller than the average federal riding. The N.W.T. is the largest of the three and has a population of just 41,000.

Candidates in the riding of Labrador, home to fewer than 27,000 souls spread out over an area larger than the United Kingdom, face a similar constraint with a spending limit of $204,000.

By contrast, Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou, the vast riding that covers northern Quebec, has a population of over 85,000. The spending limit there is more than $247,000.

Even still, the limits are more than double those of a typical election, Benson says, because this election campaign is 79 days long, compared to the usual 37 days.


  • An earlier version of this story implied that campaign spending limits do not take into account larger ridings and ridings with fewer voters. The limits do take these factors into account and candidate travel expenses don't count against the limit. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.
    Aug 08, 2015 1:44 PM CT


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