They Can't Afford The Trip
Canadian lawmakers who
passed a series of campaign finance reform laws in 2003 had the
best of intentions... but unfortunately, they wound up hurting
themselves. The laws now prevent candidates from flying to campaign
in far-flung Arctic communities -- because the candidates simply
can't afford it.
The reforms set a $1,000 limit on the amount of money one
corporation can donate to a single candidate, according to Canada's
CTV. The rules effectively cancelled a long-standing practice by
northern airlines of giving free or discounted tickets to
candidates -- and for many, that was the only way they could afford
to visit the 58 communities in Nunavet and the Northwest
"The new campaign laws mean that airlines can no longer donate
tickets to candidates, even thought they've done it for all
candidates in the past," said Jack Hicks, an agent for Nunavut NDP
candidate Amanda Ford-Rogers.
That leaves candidate's options for travel in those areas
severely limited: there are no roads at all in Nunavet, and only
occasionally passable roads in the N.W.T. In many cases, flying is
the only option... and it's not cheap.
"Is it unfair? Absolutely," said Kirby Marshall, campaign
manager for N.W.T. Tory candidate Richard Edjericon. "There are
going to be a number of small communities who are just not going to
get candidates in."
According to another campaign manager, as recently as 2000 both
First Air and Canadian North issued four passes to each candidate
to cover travel expenses into the Arctic Circle.
"That was huge," said Mark Heyck, manager for N.W.T. NDP hopeful
Dennis Bevington. "We could fly quite a bit on that."
The $1,000 restriction, he added, doesn't cover the cost of a
single flight to one of the cities in the N.W.T.
Last year -- during the first campaign held under the new
restrictions -- Liberal Ethel Blondin-Andrew spent $33,000, or a
third of her budget, on air travel, said campaign manager Lana
For it's part, First Air offers candidates a reduced "commercial
offer" rate on its flights, according to marketing VP Jim
Ballingwall. Another option, albeit an undesirable one, is for
candidates to fly standby.
That might not be enough help for some candidates, though, who
may have to resort to more primative methods.
"We're feeding our (sled) dogs very, very high-quality beef,"
said campaign manager Marshall. He was kidding, although we're not