The three main federal political parties have chartered planes for this fall’s election, cementing their logistical plans to crisscross Canada during the campaign.
The Liberals, Conservatives and NDP confirmed to The Globe and Mail that they have booked planes to jet their leaders and campaign teams across the country to pitch their platforms to Canadians. The planes are a significant expense for parties, costing millions over the campaign period.
Liberal Party spokesperson Parker Lund said the Liberals will also charter buses, along with the plane.
Hamish Marshall, the Conservative Party’s national campaign manager, said the Conservatives have signed a contract with Air Canada to charter a plane for the campaign. He said the Tories will also use buses.
The NDP will charter a plane, despite rumours the party could not afford one.
“The NDP will be running a full campaign and will be going to visit Canadians in communities from coast to coast to coast to share our message of how an NDP MP is someone that is on people’s side and will put people’s needs first,” NDP spokesperson Melanie Richer said.
Speaking to CTV News Channel earlier this month, former NDP leader Tom Mulcair said he had heard that the campaign would not charter a plane and would instead fly commercial, citing low fundraising numbers.
The most recent numbers from Elections Canada show the Conservatives with a significant lead on the fundraising front, raising more than $8-million during the first quarter of 2019, followed by the Liberals at nearly $3.9-million and the NDP at about $1.2-million.
Scott Reid, who served as senior adviser and communications director to former prime minister Paul Martin, said there are “practical, political and professional reasons” for parties to charter a plane. He says the Liberals experienced the downside of not having a plane booked for the first week of the 2008 election, which got things off to a rough start for then-leader Stéphane Dion.
“It was immediately seen as a campaign and a team that did not have their act together and a leader that did not have all the tools and trappings of a Prime Minister in ready,” Mr. Reid said.
The Green Party will not charter a plane, but is expected to use buses at some points during the campaign. A spokesperson said Leader Elizabeth May will travel mostly by rail and electric vehicles, and take some commercial flights, using carbon credits to offset emissions produced by air travel.
Sunday marked the beginning of the pre-writ period, which was created by the Liberals as a part of their election-reform legislation. Bill C-76 requires groups that aren’t political parties to register if they spend more than $500 on political activities, including ads, during the pre-writ period. It also limits the length of a campaign to 50 days. The election must be held by Oct. 21 under Elections Canada rules.
The parties are still working to secure their candidates in all 338 ridings across Canada. The Conservatives have nominated 304 candidates, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party has 271, the Liberals have 210, the Greens are at 193 and the NDP have 112. The Bloc Québécois said it has candidates in 31 of 78 ridings in Quebec.