The Shotgun Blog
Monday, September 29, 2008
Election financing rules and double standards
Election financing. We have regulated speech, not free speech, in Canada. This means that groups and individuals ("third parties") cannot spend as much money as they'd like for (or against) candidates in an election. (For more on Canada's gag law, this Calgary Herald editorial explains.)
This runs contrary to rules of free speech. I am against that law. But it still stands. And if Friends of Science and Barry Cooper can be charged, as the Herald piece explains, who else should be?
Why am I asking these questions? Because I'm curious to know how much money pro-abortion groups are spending telling me not to vote for Harper? Has anyone asked that? Are they registered? Should they be?
Representatives from Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Canadian Labour Congress, the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, Federation du Quebec pour le planning des naissances and Action Canada for Population and Development (ACPD) held the press conference, describing themselves as a united front in the mobilization of women voters.
Does spending money telling voters who not to vote for (Harper) qualify under the Elections Spending Act?
Let me be very clear--I think those pro-abortion groups should be allowed to speak freely, and spend as much as they want. But what I'm not keen on is a double standard, whereby groups on the "wrong" side are charged (Friends of Science, National Citizens Coalition to name but two) and groups with elite support (pro-abortion groups) are not.
(Cross-posted to ProWomanProLife.)
Posted by Andrea Mrozek on September 29, 2008 | Permalink
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If you put an ad on the radio, the cost of that spot is campaign spending. If you call a press conference and the media covers it, that is news coverage, not advertising, thus not campaign spending. This difference is something political parties and candidates know well, as they have learned that by "leaking" election ads to the media they can get them shown for free in the guise of being news.
So the so-called "Friends of Science" (is that like the "Misfits of Science"?) and the "National Citizens Coalition" can also hold all the press conferences they like in the hope of free media, but if they buy radio ads, they better count the pennies. [BTW, you have to love the misleading names of these groups, as if the name of the group alone settled the argument. Think what you want about the "Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada" or the "Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women", but at least their names are honest representations of their cause.]
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-29 9:55:49 AM
Apparently complaints by private citizens were filed against Friends of Science and it is in that sense only in that they were "charged". But Elections Canada itself did not actually press charges; in fact, they decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed, despite the clear stated intention by the Friends of Science to affect the election outcome in the targeted five key Ontario markets. Obviously the use of the word "charged" in the Herald editorial was ill-advised as it led to the misunderstanding propagated here; "accused" might have been better.
Election Canada's position appears to be it is permissible to advertise with the blatant intention of affecting the election without registering as a third-party advertiser, so long as the advertsing message avoids a clear, explicit reference to a party, candidate or election issue.
Posted by: Deep Climate | 2008-09-29 12:49:41 PM
*you have to love the misleading names of these groups, as if the name of the group alone settled the argument. Think what you want about the "Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada" or the "Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women", but at least their names are honest representations of their cause*
Yes, as though the former never calls itself a `pro-choice' group, whilst the latter would have you believe that there is ONLY violence against women in Canada.
Misleading, don't you think?
*If you put an ad on the radio, the cost of that spot is campaign spending. If you call a press conference and the media covers it, that is news coverage, not advertising, thus not campaign spending.*
Which is of course the inequity of the whole thing: the `Abortion' Rights Coalition can depend on receiving a lot more than $150 G in free publicity, with very little criticism, from its advertising at press conferences - and so can the `End Violence Against Women' coalition.
the NCC or the (true) Friends of Science (as opposed to the Twisters of Science, like Al Gore)? Not so much...
Posted by: Whig | 2008-09-29 2:22:01 PM
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