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Saturday, January 10, 2009

BC gag law in effect from February 12th

It’s called Bill-42, and it’s the BC Liberals’ amendment to the Election Act. Under this new law, more stringent voter identification rules will be put in place, and more importantly, spending limits will be put on third parties to prevent them from speaking their mind.

First discussed here on the Western Standard back in May, the law comes into force just over 4 weeks from now.

Under the law, political parties have had their spending limit increased to $5.5 million while everyone else is limited to $3,000 per riding – this for a full 88 days leading up to election day (BC has fixed election days). 

While even that paltry amount may sound like plenty, a close look at real advertising costs in Vancouver shows otherwise:

What this is doing is limiting dissent to Craigslist. Any union, business group, any church, or community group is effectively shut up. A single ad in the Courier will not shape opinion any which way, nor will a week long run of telephone pole postering, or a few weeks on the side of the #4 bus. 

For the entire lead up to the election, you can spend no more than $34 per day. There’s no way to make a concerted effort at opposing a BC political party or standing up for local issues. You can be heard once, and then you are shut up.

This law was brought before the BC Supreme Court a few weeks ago – with predictable results:

But Supreme Court Judge Frank Cole dismissed the application [for an injunction to suspend portions of Bill-42], saying the unions' complaints don't outweigh the intended benefits of what is still a valid law.

Cole said that to be granted such an injunction, the unions needed to prove that the public interest was better served by suspending the law than by leaving the law in place.

However, he said the legislation's goals of electoral fairness serve a "valid public purpose" and suspending the law before the case is settled would disrupt the balance that the legislation strikes.

"To suspend the operation of only the third party election advertising restrictions would upset that balance to the detriment of the other participants in the electoral process," wrote Cole in a decision posted to the court's website Monday…

The B.C. government has defended its election advertising restrictions, saying allowing outside groups to spend as much as they'd like isn't fair to voters.

Attorney General Wally Oppal has said the law is intended to keep the focus on the candidates and political parties, rather than allowing third parties influence the outcome of the vote.

It’s a narrow definition of democracy – and one that betrays a sense of ownership on the part of the BC Liberals (it’s their province, we just live in it). In any practical sense this is a virtual ban on third parties. As Oppal says, they’re not welcome. So what can you do about it?  Nothing – which is the whole reason for laws like this.

For more info – visit: JustShutUpBC.com

Posted by Robert Jago on January 10, 2009 in Freedom of expression | Permalink


You mean the government there seems to be setting up a monopoly on power? That they are making it very difficult for anyone to challenge the entrenched system?
I'm shocked!
It suits the pattern.

Posted by: JC | 2009-01-10 10:58:58 AM

Third party spending limits are ridiculous but I like the more stringent voter i.d. rules. Voter fraud has been a part of Chicago and Jersey City politics for almost 100 years. In both of these cities, you often get more votes than registered voters. Chicago is notorious for registering the votes of dead people. The Daley family which has owned the mayoralty of Chicago from 1955-1975, 1989-Present is notorious for this. I'm sure that there are voting precincts in Canada that have had the same problem.

Posted by: Dennis | 2009-01-10 9:46:45 PM

I'm curious what happens if say, I dunno, the Fraser Institute runs an ad in the Van Sun saying "For God's sakes, if you are a fiscal conservative, do not be duped to vote for the BC Liberal Party out of fear of the NDP. Look for a BC Party that shares your values of minimalist government"

What happens? Do they go to jail?

Posted by: Faramir | 2009-01-10 11:40:49 PM

We have gag laws on the net too already so why not elsehwre

Posted by: thenonconformer | 2009-01-11 6:19:14 AM

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