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Millions of dollars in federal campaign spending to come out of taxpayers' pockets

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February 23, 2016 - 9:00 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - Costs add up quickly for election campaigns, but what you might not have known is that taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars in reimbursements.

Last week when we wrote about North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold’s election expenses, one number in particular jumped out at us — a cash influx of roughly $38,000 from the Government of Canada, received on Nov. 26, well after the election was over.

We looked into it and found out the $38,000 is a routine reimbursement given to all eligible candidates.

Elections Canada spokesperson John Enright says candidates who are elected, or receive 10 per cent of the vote, and comply with financial reporting requirements are entitled to a reimbursement of up to 60 per cent of election and personal expenses paid. The reimbursements are funded by taxpayers and are applied automatically.

“Based on the filings, we look at them and if the thresholds are met, the reimbursements are made,” Enright says.

Registered parties are also eligible for a reimbursement of 50 per cent of election expenses if they file the proper financial reports and receive at least two per cent of the vote cast nationally or five per cent of the valid votes cast in electoral districts.

In the 2011 election, candidate and party expense reimbursements topped $60 million, and it will likely be higher this time around because of the length of the campaign, the longest in recent history.

As for how Arnold’s $38,000 reimbursement will be used, the newly-elected member of parliament says it will go back into his party’s reserves.

“It will be transferred back into the riding association account in preparation for next time,” he says.

Elections Canada is working through expense reports from 1,800 candidates, with 600 processed online as of Monday, Feb. 22. The deadline for candidates to submit financial documents was Friday, Feb. 19.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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