Upon hearing credible reports of alleged disinformation and robo-calls disparaging candidates and misinforming voters of their polling locations in my city (London, Ontario), I formally submitted a complaint to Elections Canada. Yesterday (May 11, 2011), I received a response from Elections Canada (see below).
Regarding alleged disinformation calls (from inside or outside city or country):
Elections Canada response:
"Although the Canada Elections Act regulates many aspects of the federal electoral process, including advertising, nothing in the Act prohibits or regulates the use of telephone solicitation seeking support for a particular candidate or party, nor does anything regulate the content of such calls. This is the same whether the calls are made from within an electoral district, or from without. Consequently, no issue of compliance or enforcement arises from calls whose source is identified. This recognizes the role played by free speech in democratic debate, including speech of a highly partisan nature that some may find offensive."
Regarding alleged robo-calls (from inside or outside city or country):
Elections Canada response:
"Your concern about press reports of "robo-calls" providing false information regarding polling stations is of a different character. Your remarks will be considered in the context of an inquiry ongoing with regard to calls of this nature that have been reported to this office."
Questions Canadians may want to consider:
1. In light of 21st century technological capabilities and the rise of American-style dirty tricks seeping into Canadian elections, should Canadians push parliament to give Elections Canada new powers to prohibit future eve-of-election slander by any political party or interest group (domestic or foreign)?
2. If Elections Canada can't or won't pursue the disinformation calls should other legal instruments (e.g., libel and slander law) be pursued?
3. Will journalists pursue the matter? Surely, with today's digital tracking technologies the origin of those making both the disinformation and robocalls can be determined and exposed.
4. Other questions???...
(Follow me on twitter: @MediatedJustice)
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