Harper’s Stolen Majority: Voter Suppression

Friday, October 2, 2015 - 23:00

Conservative Vote Suppression in 2011 and 2015

Elections have come to mean democracy. However how “valid” are elections? Do they serve democracy? Michael Keefer, Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, over the past decade has published searching analyses of electoral fraud in the United States, in Haiti – and now in Canada.

This talk explains how Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, who have been proven in Canadian courts to have engaged in fraud in every election they have won, organized a massive, nationwide, and carefully targeted campaign of vote suppression in the election of 2011. The available evidence indicates that during that election Canadian voters–with opposition-party supporters overwhelmingly targeted–received a total of well over 1.1 million fraudulent phone calls, both live-operator and automated. These calls were evenly divided between late-night harassment calls which pretended to come from opposition-party campaigns, and misinformation calls, mostly claiming to come from Elections Canada, directing opposition-party supporters to incorrect or nonexistent polling stations.

Professor Keefer shows that Elections Canada’s investigation of this crime against democracy was belated, under-resourced, and in many respects incompetent — and the farcical conclusion that only in the riding of Guelph was a crime committed, and that only one young man was effectively responsible for it.

Telephone fraud may well have made the difference for the Conservatives between minority and majority government status in 2011. This time around for 2015, Pierre Poilievre’s Orwellian “Fair” Elections Act (Bill C-23) makes it clear that the Harper Conservatives intend to rely on vote suppression once again in the present election.

The Texas legislation from which Poilievre copied the strict photo-identity requirements in the “Fair” Elections Act has been shown to have a much larger than expected effect in suppressing the votes of minority voters (who customarily vote heavily against right-wing candidates). And as Professor Keefer explains, the Act both deprives Elections Canada of its former role in educating people about voting procedures, and will also permit the deployment by Conservative Party scrutineers of a hi-tech identity-challenge system within polling stations, thereby creating long line-ups in districts known to favour opposition-party candidates.

On October 19, the Harper Conservatives will, once again, be doing their best to use an election to sabotage democracy.

About the Speaker
Michael Keefer is Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph and a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada.  He was editor of Antisemitism Real and Imagined: Responses to the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism (2010) and the author of recently published, Hard Truths for Canada about Israel and Palestine.

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