Friday, April 25, 2008

Erections Canada

The title's not a misprint. It's what I think Elections Canada should be renamed, considering their tactics regarding the bullet-proof vest clad storming of Conservative HQ by the RCMP last week. I think John Robson makes the point far better than I could though; at least he's done his homework: In the battle pitting the federal Conservatives against Elections Canada, the opposition and the press, a typical Ottawa competition to see who can perform most discreditably, my money was on the Tories. Until I made a crucial blunder: I did research. John goes on to say "At this point I foolishly read what I hope were all the relevant sections of the 500-plus page Canada Elections Act. Here, in unavoidable legalese, is what I found. The Act does set separate spending limits for registered parties (clause 422.1) and for their candidates (clauses 440 and 441). But Clause 422 (2) lets parties give money to local candidates and not count it as "an election expense..." So the key question is whether those candidates can spend that or any other money, up to their local limit, on what is essentially national advertising. And the crucial Clause 407 (1) defines an "election expense" as "any cost incurred, or non-monetary contribution received, by a registered party or a candidate, to the extent that the property or service for which the cost was incurred, or the nonmonetary contribution received, is used to directly promote or oppose a registered party, its leader or a candidate during an election period." What in there says local spending must happen locally or concern local issues? I see nothing." For a guy who admitedly had a preconceived notion (that the Tories were guilty) to come away from this thinking that they are on the right side of this issue leaves me questioning the true motives of Elections Canada. If they continue to act like a bunch of big dicks, then perhaps they deserve the title given at the top of this post.