rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

'Fair elections' and ending impartial voter drives

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

"Instead, the official reiterated the government's position that political parties and candidates, not Elections Canada, would be responsible for increasing voter turnout under Bill C-23."

That's the altogether revealing comment that might have slipped past you in a Hill Times article last month which showed that a 2008 Elections Canada ad which was seemingly critical of industry -- and which Conservatives had pointed to as evidence that Elections Canada needed to be stripped of the ability to encourage people to vote -- never actually aired in the first place.

"The ad -- a 25-second video that contrasts urban pollution and emissions to an evergreen forest as it urges youth to 'vote, shape your world' -- was created for Elections Canada but cancelled in 2007 by the newly installed chief electoral officer that year, Marc Mayrand."

The obvious irony -- that the allegedly partisan commercial was pulled because it was considered not objective enough, and yet is being used to silence impartial voter encouragement -- is significant on its own. But it becomes that much more jaw-dropping in the face of the Harper government's position: that it was important to end impartial voter drives, in favour of clearly partisan ones.

Stephen Harper has made no secret that his aim is to reshape Canada so that the Conservatives become the nation's "natural governing party." He's been arguably helped by the fact that the anyone-but-conservative vote has been split among three parties, with few other distinctions among them -- especially since the NDP dropped socialism from its platform and the Liberals have been adept at obscuring their own neoliberal track record. The hypocrisies already noted about the Harper government's "Fair Elections Act" have already revealed that this bill is intended to help achieve this natural governing status, but the comment above reveals that the use of the bill goes much deeper than the mainstream media has already realized.

One such nuance was unearthed at The Cracked Crystal Ball II, which noted the introduction of partisan election officials empowered to examine ID at voting stations:

"This is unprecedented. At no time in my recollection have the party scrutineers at polling stations ever had any specific right to inspect the ID provided by a voter.  In adding this particular clause, the very process of obtaining a ballot has just become subject to political interference..."

Another less-noted change is this: that the Conservatives want a conscious and deliberate shift away from impartial agencies encouraging voters and toward parties handling voter drives.

There is, of course, a benefit to the Conservatives to doing so. The party has demonstrated in the past that it has learned from American parties' use of social issues to push ideologically-driven conservatives to the polls while shaming and demoralizing progressives and moderates to discourage them from doing the same.

The change would be sure to help any party trained in whipping its voter base into a fearful frenzy. It's not hard to guess which party has made an art of doing exactly that.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.