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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Elections Canada vs Free Speech

Yesterday in a National Post column I suggested revenge was behind that Elections Canada "raid" on Tory Party headquarters.

Today, in the same paper and on the same page, David Frum suggests a more sinister motivation.

Frum argues the raid may have revealed the agency's "deep, sustained and highly ideological hostility to ordinary rights of free speech."

Elections Canada, he writes, is choosing to interpret its mandate in a way that is "indifferent to core freedoms".

I wholeheartedly concur with this analysis.

In all my dealings with Elections Canada bureaucrats (and I had a lot) they never gave the slightest inkling that they understood the importance of free expression. In fact, if anything they saw free speech as nothing but a nuisance.

And when it came to enforcing things like election gag laws, they displayed the close-minded-zealotry of the Spanish Inquisition.

And yes Elections Canada does have an ideological bias. Check this Globe and Mail column I wrote a few years ago for more on this.

How do we defang this monster?

Frum has the answer: "Stop gagging speech. Stop telling the public and the candidates what they can and cannot say."

Posted by Gerry Nicholls on April 19, 2008 | Permalink


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When accusations of law-breaking are made and investigations ensue, I usually like to withhold judgement until all the facts emerge. But every time I read a column like Frum's or yours yesterday, Gerry, I wonder how short that wait will be. Because what both of you - and most Conservatives who have commented - seem to be saying is "Yes, we broke the law, but it's a bad law, so let's not focus on the law-breaking part of the story, please."

Now I am sure that the question of whether or not the law is just is important and I am also sure that this question might well be the most important issue to you, but to people who are not dyed-in-the-wool Tory blue the question of whether laws were intentionally broken that gave one party an advantage in recent elections is the most important question. Election fixing is dirty business, no matter what justification one claims. All the spin and attempting to change the subject will not help. In fact, it just seems more and more like tacit admissions of guilt.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-04-19 9:09:01 AM

Since it's inception The venerable Liberal Party
has sought to totally control the mechanics of Elections,it became a very blatant fact under the master manipulator and patronage driven Chretien PMO. A thorough investigation of Elections Canada will determine that every bureaucrat employed in this Agency are political appointees approved years ago by the flunkies and minions in Chretien's PMO,
The Federal Elections Returning Officer for the Province of Nova Scotia was appointed to serve in several Federal elections because of her and her family's Liberal connections, Poll workers throughout Nova Scotia representing other National Political Parties used to laugh at the blatant and arbitrary election processes generated by the Political appointees in Elections Canada,who should be investigated for Fraud as defined by the Revised Edition of the Criminal Code of Canada. Canada voter fraud be considered a "Criminal Offence"? it depends on what transpired by manipulation of polls,ballots,and Voter lists.The
concept being that implemented by the Liberal Party,when in doubt,Cheat. MacLeod, not in the least surprised by anything undertaken by Elections Canada, division of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2008-04-19 11:09:32 AM

Elections Canada will vehemently deny any bias, that's their story and they're sticking to it. Most political observers know bloody well it ain't so. They're just another appendage of the LPC.

The Liberals have stacked the deck of every nook and cranny to aid them in getting and holding power and there's no way fair play enters into their scheme.

All we can hope for is the Conservatives get enough time in power to purge the government institutions of all Liberal hangers on and patsies. It'll be a tough job to get things back to a level playing field since it's at the inbred level.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-04-19 11:49:09 AM

Is this the same Frum that was attacking Ron Paul on National TV, who's pushing to bomb Iran, who had debated for more security over less freedom in the United States, who says that the American Congress was wrong regarding Iraq, who's writing for Rudy "september 11" Guiliani's campain, who invented the "Axis of evil" rethoric as a speech-writer for the Champions of Freedom and Liberty: the Bush administration ?
Just asking.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 11:58:54 AM

Go, Georges St. Pierre, go.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-19 12:08:05 PM

You would love that if won't mind neocons' politics, don't you ?

Beleive me, I would love it too.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 12:13:22 PM


In Alberta, we cannot vote for either Ron Paul or Dubya, so US politics is pretty much blah, blah, blah. I do know the citizens of Iraq are instrumental in helping defeat Al Qaida, so that's a good thing that people are standing up for themselves with the help of the US.

Frum is correct about the totalitarian tendencies of the Elections Canada bureaucracy, though.

An MP from your belle provence, Merlene Jennings, used similar techniques to actually get taxpayer's money back into the Liberal Party.

Since I saw no Bloc ads in Alberta, I can only assume they did not run a national campaign.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-19 12:25:28 PM

"In Alberta, we cannot vote for either Ron Paul or Dubya, so US politics is pretty much blah, blah, blah."

So the opinions of one of their best neocon cheerleader: blah, blah, blah.
...Especially when his opion is critisizing "totalitarian tendencies".
Blah, blah, blah.

Forget this pupet for a moment.
Canadian Federalism = blah, blah, blah.
So please, stop trying to sell me who's the less of two evils.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 12:43:53 PM


I'm sure your life is experienced in the present, not the past.

Therefore, you must have noticed PM Harper is a strong advocate for provincial rights and responsibilities under the BNA.

Quebec and Quebeckers are continuing to embrace this vision and rejecting the Trudeau vision of a federal government taking onto themselves responsibilities accorded to the provinces, and agreed to at the time of Confederation.

I would suggest you embrace this chance for Quebec the Conservative Party is giving, rather that wasting your energies fighting against the Trudeau legacy, which is becoming less and less relevant every day.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-19 12:54:59 PM

"I would suggest you embrace this chance for Quebec the Conservative Party is giving"

Let me ask myself...

...eh, No.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 1:00:05 PM


Your choice.

Continue to be motivated by bitterness toward Trudeau's vision while the world changes around you. That's so 1976.

At least you're not in Ontario, who are going to wake up one day and discover General Motors will carry out their threat to shut down plants during the strike later this year. About September, I believe.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-19 1:13:14 PM

"Continue to be motivated by bitterness toward Trudeau's vision while the world changes around you."

This guy thinks it have something to do with Trudeau. Keep getting your info in medias made by and for Anglos, Set you free.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 1:52:23 PM


Since I have a God-given intellect, I make my own decisions based on fact.

The Bloc party and the Liberal Party are about to go the way of the dinosaur.

A person can live in the past for only so long before they understand it cannot be changed.

Nobody has control over you, or me. You are the sole author of your own happiness or your own misfortune.

I can understand your bitterness, marc, since your political viewpoint is becoming less relevant in today's world.

Posted by: set you free | 2008-04-19 2:03:15 PM

The only "freedom" allowed in Canada is "freedom of choice" to kill our young by Abortion. All other "freedoms" are subject to control by the unelected and by the appointed. We have Human Rights Commissars who control free speech, free expression and free association. Trade union membership is subjected to compulsory union dues. And these forced dues are used to finance many special interest groups "Freedom of association" is a farce. Or as Orwell might say "Freedom" is COMPULSION. We are ruled by a "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" which the people of this country never approved by individual vote. It was imposed by the political elites at the time. The judiciary hallucinate and "read in" words not written in the Charter, and the Charter is declared a "living tree." Criminals are "morally worthy" to vote, and orgies are okay as long as no "harm" is done, according to some of our "esteemed" appointed judges. We can complain, and write articles until we are blue in the face, but nothing will change. We are conditioned to believe that what we have is "democracy." But in reality we are controlled and compelled to obey the unelected and the politicians of All political stripes do NOT have the courage or will to change this system. Because it suits them to be able to pass the buck as the saying goes.

Posted by: Stephen J. Gray | 2008-04-19 4:48:53 PM


Quite cynical. Sadly, much of what you say seems true to me. A couple thoughts on some of the things you said.

First of all, democracy is really tyranny by the majority. The politicians will never act much differently than they do now. They can be idealistic or get elected but rarely can they do both. The incentive is ONLY to get elected. After that the ONLY incentive is to get re elected. We should not expect them to act against this.

Freedom should be the only goal. If anyone thinks we live in a free society, they have not thought about it much. Adults are told when to cross the street, to buckle up, to helmet up, to complete stats can forms, not to say mean things about some people, what to watch, what to listen to, how to get health care, etc etc. Try NOT doing these things and see how free you are.

Posted by: TM | 2008-04-19 5:09:24 PM

Despite you screams of 'Elections Canada, totalitarian, blah, blah, blah", the fact is the CONservative Party of Canada got caught breaking the LAW; not only that, they suckered 66 candidates into their Ponzi scheme!

If you guys were truly about 'free speech', you wouldn't let Harper muzzle your CON MPs.


Posted by: joe bleau | 2008-04-19 6:09:47 PM

The other day when I commented on the same subject I said that a cap would make it difficult for fringe parties. I should have referred to election gag laws. That is really what I was thinking of and I thank Gerry Nicholls for the reminder of terminology.

TM you are right about the majority tyranny of democracy. That is why there are checks and balances and separation of powers. It is also why we have to be ever vigilant about how those powers are used and/or abused.

SYF- Why should Marc rejoice that PMSH supports provincial rights? The more Harper succeeds, the more Marc and his separatist chums fail.

Finally FC, the only way to get a bad election law changed is to challenge it in court so that you can present your case. To take it to Parliament where you don't have a majority will not work. At any rate, we have yet to see proof of CPC culpability. Perhaps we should wait. If none surfaces, MacLeod is right (nice to see you back) and a lot of bureaucrats should be fired or replaced.

Posted by: DML | 2008-04-19 8:04:01 PM


To be so against the conservatives, I am guessing you are a staunch liberal supporter. If so you have too much faith in politicians. Our system produces the results we get no matter what party is ruling.

By the way, free speach is meant to protect citizens from the government. What a party does within their ranks may heavy handed but does not go against free speach.

Posted by: TM | 2008-04-19 8:04:29 PM

Sorry for the spelling.

Posted by: TM | 2008-04-19 8:06:31 PM

"SYF- Why should Marc rejoice that PMSH supports provincial rights?"


Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 11:18:20 PM

The Liberal Party has been rigging elections for about 40 years now. They do by buying off the main stream media. They hand out appointments to the best suck-holes the Canadian media has to offer. In return the MSM is totally bias in favor of their benefactors.

Does anyone think the CBC would even exist if not for the Liberals?

The Liberal Left has also long ago, hijacked the educational system and loaded it's leadership and ranks at all levels with it's own philosophical supporters. They have been grinding good little politically correct, collectivist, no-fault liberals for two generations now.

Liberals have been importing and indoctrinating the most useless and nowadays vile immigrants by the hundreds of thousands to increase their vote margins.

only now with Harpers immigration bill might we get some productive newcomers do the work that needs to be done in our booming economy. Booming at least in Western Canada where the future is for this country.

As our world becomes more competitive and less secure, the move toward conservatism will grow and the Liberalism of the past will fade as it is already.

If the CPC printed too many pamphlets or shuffled money to get a few extra TV ads, that is nothing compared to the devastation done by the Liberal party who thieved tens of millions of tax dollars in the recent Quebec scam to run their campaigns. You know ... the Libranos.

When it comes to criminality in the election process, compared to the Liberals, the CPC are pikers.

You think that is not rigging elections?

There are so many Leftists in Canada now that four our of five parties are needed to represent them all. If not for that vote splitting we would be Cuba north by now.

Posted by: John V | 2008-04-19 11:33:31 PM

Joe bleau:

Conservatives need a few more tips from the Liberals who are the proven masters of rigging and corruption. Remember, they got caught by enabling one too many schemes, it was christened "Adscam" and took them down. You will not see that in this Conservative Party, the leader is a straight arrow and a straight shooter. You won't hear any garbled, mangled or silly language from him like "a proof is a proof..." .

Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms is what has led to such Commie Kangaroo Courts as HRC's which take away or greatly curtail freedom of speech.

Also, tell us any Party that can succeed without the discipline of following the Party line? Many examples can be cited from the Liberal ranks, a recent case was Joe Comuzzi who had to step down from his position, move to the Back Benches and then out of the Party.

This has NOTHING to do with free speech, everyone knows it, but the state of mind of desperate Liberals will lead to all manner of silly accusations.

Posted by: Liz J | 2008-04-20 6:55:23 AM

LOL! "Tories gear up for damage control on RCMP raid of their office"

The scumbags are running around like roaches under a spotlight! Why do these scoundrels think it is acceptable to defraud Canadian taxpayers of money to pay for CONservative Party elections? Have they no shame? Apparently not!

Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-20 7:50:23 PM

Stephen Harper is a lying scumbag who was caught redhanded trying to pay a bribe! Harper admitted that Brian Mulroney was his personal advisor! Need I say more? NO! Harper is a cynical opportunist who is economical with the truth, to put it politely!

Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-20 7:52:49 PM

If this were a genuine investigation, the search would have taken place 3 months after the election, not 2 years and 3 months after.

More incriminating is the fact that EC insisted to the media last week that the search had nothing to do with the advertising. Now that the warrant documents are available, we know that that was a lie.

Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2008-04-20 9:33:51 PM

Clarification: if not 3 months after the election, then whatever the time period is for ridings and the central campaign to file expenses.

Posted by: Joan Tintor | 2008-04-20 9:35:11 PM

LOL! Joan, EC has been tightlipped and did not have any comment last week! Nice try! LOL! The search warrant does the talking for Elections Canada! And what a tale it will tell! The long time frame was for Harper and his money-laundering gang to come clean and hand over the documents to EC, but Harper tried to stonewall them and play his usual brand of scoundrel obstruction and obfuscation routine--just like Conrad Black used to like to do! Now it has backfired and the police and criminal courts are involved and we might yet see thieves paraded in handcuffs! LOL! And they were going to clean up corruption in Ottawa! LOL!!! Like a fox guarding the henhouse! LOL! Alberta, keep your thieves at home!

Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-20 9:41:05 PM

Elections Canada, champions of Canadian taxpayers v. the Money-laundering CONservative Party of Canada with its hand in the pockets of Canadians!!!

Hands in my wallet, hands in my pocket, la la la la, Harper has his hand in your pocket, wants to take your money, la la la la.... LOL!

Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-21 11:58:39 AM

Why did elections canada take this approach is my question? They were already engaged in a civil lawsuit with the conservatives so they had ample ability to request documents. To date no requests had been turned down. Next thing the rcmp and cbc reporters show up to seize documents through an ex parte order. The next question is why do they need any documents their dispute surrounds when is an ad national vs. local. They already have copies of the ads. Clearly to anyone who is not a member of the liberals this is a biased witch hunt. Especially considering the fact that every other political party carries on election is the same manner. Yet, no other party was investigated.
How did our governmental institutions get to the point where they exhibit such clear political bias?

Posted by: Cam | 2008-04-21 9:09:24 PM

Why is the RCM Police involved in a raid? Simple, it is a criminal matter. Why gather evidence through a raid? Simple, Harper and his gang were obstructing justice and refusing to hand over documents, as outlined in the search warrant approved by a judge! What next? Charges of trying to defraud the Canadian taxpayer. Who are involved? A long list of CONservative Party cabinet members, MPs and unsuccessful candidates, party functionaries, and the party leadership, who hatched the plot. Harper has 'splaining to do!

Posted by: ROGER | 2008-04-21 9:20:13 PM

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