National Election Campaigns

The coverage of National Elections and Referendums could be considered bi-polar events. On one hand there was the national campaign, featuring party leaders, and on the other hand, every community had its members of parliament to be elected.

Canadians have been more than adequately informed over the years by the competing media and the work of individual stations, services and networks was probably as professional as one could expect with the resources available.

From a media perspective, and looking at the National Campaign, politicians of the ’60s established the basic style when the leasing of aircraft to fly leaders from place to place across the country became fashionable.

Members of the media began accompanying them, travelling on the same schedule as the leader, but not leading quite the same lifestyle. While the political parties quickly established systems to herd the media from venue to venue, complete with equipment and ensuring that media room facilities and of course, hotel rooms were ready for them, the reporters’ days were longer and longer while the number of stump speeches and appearances by the leader tended to reduce. In part this was the result of advances in broadcasting. The demand for fresh material was constant. News was heard around the clock on radio and from early morning to late at night for television.

As the years progressed, the arrival of more rapid communications (eg the cellphone) also allowed reporters from one campaign to speak with reporters on another campaign, thus feeding each other material on which to base questions of their leadership candidate.

And as technology improved, the ability for broadcasters to transmit more material and more frequently also served to feed the hungry beast.

It should be noted that the costs of operation for the broadcasters not only covered their reporters and technicians, but also included assessments from the political parties for the individual’s share of the transportation and accommodations. There was no free ride from the mid ’70s onward.

Sidney Margles – February, 2005