Is it time to bring in Bencher election campaign spending limits?

By: Kathryn Marshall

The Law Society of Upper Canada Bencher election is over. Thankfully this means no more campaign pitches appearing in our facebook feeds and in our email inboxes. Now that the dust has settled, people are starting to question the money that goes into running a bencher campaign. In an article published in the Law Times, a current bencher Jeffrey Lem says that he would not be surprised if some candidates spent close to $75,000 out of pocket on their campaigns.

While many candidates likely only spend a few thousand dollars on their campaigns, it is surprising to think that some are spending almost as much if not more money then provincial or federal election candidates.

There are currently no spending limits for bencher candidate campaigns. Candidates can spend big money on everything from pricey email lists and flashy campaign websites to targeted facebook ads. It can all add up quick. The concern is that the lack of spending cap is making it harder for young lawyers without the big bucks to run a winning campaign.

How much is too much to spend on a bencher campaign? Where do we draw the line?

Maybe it is time to bring in a reasonable spending limit to level the playing field and make it easier for young lawyers to get elected.

Ultimately, merit and qualifications should win the day – not campaign spending.