$18.3m is the spending limit for each party’s federal campaign, although the riding association can spent more on top of that, and it doesn’t count any money spent before the writ is dropped. It’s based to the number of ridings contested, meaning the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP have the same limit, and the Bloc gets to spend a little under a quarter of that. While $18.3m is nothing to sneeze at I’m guessing Obama has already spent more than that just on doughnuts for his volunteers.
So Layton made headlines in BC and Alberta by being the first leader to head west Ontario, appearing at a rally in Calgary then heading up to the NWT in order to fly the reporters over the tar sands, always an impressive sight from the air. Not a bad photo op. Everyone else is chasing the vote-rich swing province of Quebec, which will be receiving plenty of attention from Layton later in the campaign. Well, everyone except Elizabeth May, who we just heard today will not be allowed to join the boys in the leader’s debate. Dion was for it because May is endorsing him as PM, and the other parties were against it on the grounds that she’s essentially Dion’s candidate in Central Nova, where Dion promised not to run a Liberal against her. (Not that it will really help, since the Liberals only took 25% of the vote there last time; that riding is an NDP-Conservative battleground.) The consortium of broadcasters who manage the debates essentially passed the buck, saying they wouldn’t include May since three of the four leaders were opposed to it, hinting they were worried the others wouldn’t show up were she there. Better luck next time, May. She has threatened to sue (who exactly, it’s not clear).
Next, Layton heads to Vancouver and the riding of Liberal defector David Emerson, who of course became Harper’s only urban MP by skipping to the Conservatives for a Cabinet post (after more than doubling the vote of the Conservative candidate by running on the popular “Harper is an ass” platform). Emerson, unsurprisingly, decided not to run again, presumably because he’s widely loathed throughout the city. (Yes, I know Michael Fortier is in Cabinet, but his seat is in the Senate.)
On-line campaigning, Web 2.0 style, has been hugely popular with the media for some reason this campaign cycle. All the parties were pushing this stuff last time too, but I get the impression a lot of reporters have discovered Facebook since 2006. Or maybe they’ve just heard their kids talking about it – a national affairs reporter for a major news network just called us for a story about political websites, and mentioned that he had never actually looked at the NDP’s website himself (nor did he seem interested in doing so). People keep talking about it as a way to connect with da yoot (which is true), and as a lawless “wild west” (as though the usual libel laws and campaign spending regulations somehow don’t apply). It’s true there are few laws specifically about campaigning on the web, but Quebec is considering changing that.