New Orleans When my friends in Canada compare their politics to the great southland of the United States, I know there’s no compliment coming at the back end of the sentence. When friends started sending me emails from the great north that said, “robo-calls, voter suppression, sounds like…,” I knew that “USA” filled in that blank.
Sure enough the Conservative Party is being linked to dirty tricks in the last election in which they acquired a majority in Parliament finally. A call center operation in Edmonton called Racknine (is that a pool hall term for prepping for a game of 9-ball?) that had worked for Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the past has now been linked to fake robo-calls in a number of Ontario cities like Windsor, Guelph, London, and Toronto, as well as Winnipeg and elsewhere. The calls were to expected Liberal voters and the call would inform such voters that their polling place had been moved to another location and then give them a fake address. Pretty clear chicanery there!
Voter suppression has become so common now in the United States that it seems there are damned few of us that go berserk at the notion that the state-by-stated forced ID system could push 2 million voters off the rolls here for the elections in November.
In Canada there’s serious discussion about whether or not the penalties are severe enough to deter this kind of behavior in the future. The current situation in Canada is:
Under the Canada Elections Act, voter suppression – “delaying or obstructing the electoral process” or “the willful endeavour to prevent an elector from voting” – is punishable with up to a $5,000 fine, five years in prison or both. However, since 1992, no one has been imprisoned for breaking the Canada Elections Act. The largest fine laid under the Act – two fines of $25,000 – was against the Conservative Party for the in-and-out payments. [This means incurring election expenses over the limits and incorrectly reporting the payments – also something that is commonplace in the USA!]
In the USA we have candidates for office under the Republican standard who are running on a platform of voter suppression. It would nice to think they were campaigning to knock on a jailhouse door, but that seems not the case here yet. Go, Canada!