Friday, November 23, 2012

Some Musings on the Canada Elections Act



Imagine if you will a competition.  Before it starts, the referee explains the rules and sets the guide lines and then the competition begins.

The referee watches the competition but seems oblivious to what is going on.  He call no fouls, even when onlookers cry out about illegal moves.  He might occasionally give warnings about inappropriate actions during the competition, but those warnings can be denied and ignored.

At the end of the competition the referee declares the winner.

Sounds a bit like pro wrestling, doesn’t it?

Actually it sounds a lot like our election system in Canada.

Elections Canada seems to have very little power when it comes to the actual election campaigns.  They get to shout “Go!” at the beginning and count the votes at the end to declare the victor.

One, two, three.

More recently we had another vote.  It was in the House of Commons to see what would happen to Bill C-424, a Bill to amend the Elections Act of Canada.

A fellow in Liberal red trunks named Dominic LeBlanc, hailing from Beaus√©jour (New Brunswick) proposed this bill, which would raise the fines for infractions under the Act from $2000 and $5000 to $20,000 and $50,000 for breaking the rules.  For doing things like preventing people from voting, or causing a disturbance at a polling station to prevent people from voting, or intentionally overspending their limit during an election… It’s all in sections 481 through 499 of the Canada Election Act.

And it would allow the Chief Electoral Officer to contest the result of an election where questionable things happened.

Imagine that, people call Elections Canada about unscrupulous matters occurring in an election and Elections Canada can’t go to the court and say “Here’s what happened, review the results.”  Today, only a voter in that particular riding or a candidate for that riding can go to the courts if they feel that an election was unfairly won.

Some referee eh?  Here’s your striped shirt, but no whistle, not even a flag to throw.

Well on November 21st there was a vote to see if Bill C-424 would go to Committee and it was clearly a partisan vote.  The Opposition side all voted in favour of the Bill and the Harper Party voted against it. 

Goodbye to Bill C-424.

The system is broken.  We saw that when Borys Wrzesnewskyj contested the Etobicoke election results and initially won.  Borys spent a large amount of money in his efforts to show that the Etobicoke election was flawed and that a new election should be held.  Far more money than you or I would be able to spend if we believed the results of an election should be overturned.

The Chief Electoral Officer should be able to go to the courts and have the results reviewed if there is evidence of wrongdoing.  It shouldn’t be up to you or me to fight in court against a political party that is willing to spend the case into the Supreme Court of Canada like we saw in Borys’ case.

In the USA there were reports that the group anonymous may have interfered with the Republican Party’s get out the vote computer system.  There were concerns that they may have broken several federal election laws (in the US) not for interfering with the vote, or the voting machines, but for interfering with a political party’s computers.

Here we have Pierre Poutine and a number of other infractions under the Canada Election Act and nobody on the Harper Party side of the House seems to give a rat’s patoot about it.

We obviously need some reforms and Bill C-424 was a start, and yet Harper’s crew won’t have any of it. 

Isn’t funny how the self professed Law and Order party of Lord Stephen seems to have no concerns about electoral fraud and robocalls and overspending by candidates or candidates receiving illegal corporate donations, et cetera, et cetera…

If you smell what this cat…. Is cooking.

Apologies for the wrestling references, it’s a weakness ;o)
Cheers, BC

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