So, an election has been called, but where are the fancy planes? The big rallies in hotel ballrooms? The convoy of campaign buses rolling up at big events before thousands of cheering supporters?

Well, that all costs money. And when a typical 36-day campaign is stretched to more than double that, 78 days, parties are being thrifty with the rollout of their campaign machinery.

After all, a national tour can easily burn through $2 million a week.

At least one Conservative bus is on the road; the Liberals unveiled one of theirs; the NDP will roll one out later this week.

That’s comparatively cheap, and the least expensive option as strategists calculate other costs ahead of the long campaign:

  • Want to charter a fancy plane? Of course you do, especially in a large, spread-out country such as Canada. A typical Airbus passenger jet costs approximately $600,000 per week – that’s just for the plane rental. Jet fuel, landing fees, on-board meals, and accommodations for the flight crew are extra. Oh, a custom logo will add thousands more.
  • Need busses? You bet. Each party typically charters between six to 10 busses during the high mark of a campaign, at approximately $1,300/week. Organizers typically keep two in each region but aim for more in vote rich B.C. and Ontario. A custom ‘wrap’ with party logo and colours adds extra $10,000 per bus. Retrofitting interiors costs extra.
  • Hungry? Sleepy? Everyone will be. Campaigning is exhausting. Appetites grow and your team will crave a good sleep. Hotels and meals cost thousands per week, depending on schedules and the number of travelling staff. Don’t forget to tip your waiter and hotel cleaning staff.
  • Keep cash for incidentals: Things always go wrong, or inevitably break down. The Conservative bus had mechanical issues two days into their campaign. A replacement eventually arrived, but delayed a planned event later that evening by several hours.

But, that’s just the tour. The bulk of campaign money will be spent on advertising: TV, radio, online, print, billboards. You name it.

Plus, rent at party headquarters needs to be paid: office equipment, phones, wireless, and utilities. Don’t forget to spring for pizza once in a while for the selfless volunteers in the War Room.

Political insiders say for now, the plan is to open their war chests around Labour Day weekend. Parties will bring out planes, hold big rallies and crisscross the country.

It will mark the beginning of the long sprint that will continue until Oct. 19.