Friday, March 4, 2011

A way to save the federal government some money

I was thinking about the fact that we have Elections agencies in all the Canadian provinces and we have Elections Canada as well.    Do we really need to have both?  What if we abolished Elections Canada and had the provincial election agencies handle all the federal elections?

There are staff at the federal and provincial level, the difference being that the provincial elections staff are much better distributed across the country to manage elections.  

There is nothing that has to be done for Federal Elections that could not be handled by provincial elections agencies.   In fact provincial agencies handle bigger elections in each province than Elections Canada does.   Having one agency handle all the provincial and federal elections would mean that overall fewer fulltime staff would be needed but at the same there would be a more consistent work load for the staff.   With elections normally every 3 to 4 years, in three out of four years the election agency has a lot less to do.   With one agency handling both elections, there would be a general election every 21 months or so that the staff would work on.

The Federal parliament would simply have to pass a new Elections act that names the Chief Electoral Officer in each province as the person mandated to run the election in that province.    The funding would flow to the provincial election agencies on the basis of something like $5 per voter per year with it tied to the cost of living index.  The exact mechanism can be worked out later.

The federal election rules are clear and should not be an issue for each provincial CEO to follow.  I would see the provincial CEOs submitting reports to the federal parliament.   It all strikes me as logistically much more effective and cost efficient than what we have now.

I can not think of any reason this would not work, but I am certain people will point reasons why they think the idea is flawed.   I am also realistic to know that this is not going to happen because the Federal government works in one way, taking more powers in.   The feds are in so many areas of provincial authority and constantly expanding their role but never agreeing to stop.

Fundamentally what I want to see in Canada, a federal government looking for how to eliminate their duplication of services provided by provincial governments.   I want to see the feds out of natural resources, education and health.   Sure, the feds can send money to th e provinces in those areas, but do not have ministries dealing with those issues.


Anonymous said...

Hmm. Rather, but not precisely, similar to our neighbours to the south. There the states even run the presidential election! However, I quite agree on getting the feds out of provincial affairs.

Bernard said...

The one difference I would propose is that the regulations be created by the Federal parliament for Federal elections

Tim said...

Never going to happen. Federal control of elections was dictated at the time of confederation specifically to avoid the voter disfranchisement issues that occured in the southern US states. Having said that I really don't that would be much of a problem in modern day Canada.

The current issue is that the present Ontario government(which is still by far the largest province) would just assume "upload" as many responsibilities as they can to the Federal govt such as sales tax collection(HST) and securities/financial regulation and has found a willing partner in the current Conservative govt under the guise of "Economic Union".

This is putting the current BC govt under more strain than anything else. They can either please the business community especially the larger "pan Canadian" businesses and go along with things such as the HST and a national securities regulator or adopt a more populist "Vander Zalmic" view of Ottawa and annoy a lot of the their large financial backers.