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Conservatives hope public cynicism towards their acts means they go unpunished by the electorate.

There is an op-ed in the Toronto Star today penned by Nelson Wiseman,  politicial science professor at the University of Toronto which asks a very good question: What kind of country has a ruling party that mounts an assault on its election watchdog?”

A question that is difficult to answer. Even in Zimbabwe, where the tyrannical Robert Mugabe and his party rule with an iron fist, the country’s electoral commission wasn’t attacked when it finally released results showing Mugabe had lost his parliamentary majority.  Canada and its governing Conservatives are in very isolated and dubious company indeed.

More importantly is the observation by the professor that such things as this attack on Elections Canada, the Mulroney-airbus affair, and the stonewalling of the parliamentary enquiry on the Chuck Cadman affair by the Conservatives will reinforce the publics cynical view of all parties, if not the electoral system in general.

I can’t help but think that is what the Conservatives want to happen. They want the electorate to believe that “everyone does in-and-out financing”, and they want to make the general electorate cynical towards the whole electoral process.

Why? Because, it will blunt anger toward them, and it perhaps will even depress turnout  in a future election, in a country that is already experiencing falling participation rates in elections.  The combination of low turnout and a cynical electorate, plus using these attacks on them as a way to rally the Conservative base to come out and vote to save them from the federal civil service/Liberal Party/media conspiracy (and the base of the Conservatives will come out and vote, as they believe these bogeyman stories) may prevent the Cons from getting deservedly booted out of office.

It is that  Cons. strategy that needs to be fought against both by the opposition parties and the progressive blogosphere in order to prevent this cynicism from developing amongst the voting public. The job on the anti-Conservative side is to stoke the anger of the public against the acts of this Cons. government, to make the public or the majority of the public want to remove this government.

[email protected]:30AM: A reader from the UK informs me in comments that since the release of the election results, Mugabe and his police have started harrassing and arresting certain election officials with the eye of being able to influence the results of the presidential runoff, so post-election, Zimbabwae is obviously attacking its electoral body with much more venom then Canada’s Consrvatives are.  It still doesn’t say much for Canada’s government when they share places with Zimbabwae in attacking their own country’s electoral commissions, even if Mugabe is more extreme in his case of doing it.

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6 comments to Conservatives hope public cynicism towards their acts means they go unpunished by the electorate.

  • Gayle

    Colin – I think it is time you took a reading comprehension course.

    The Elections Act is law. It creates offences. If the CPC acted in a manner that falls within one of those offences, they have commited an offence. It is not an “accounting regulation”. It is an offence. If they are found guilty, they will be punished.

    If you need some help understanding that concept, I suggest you read the affidavit for the SW, where EC sets out quite clearly what offences they believe the CPC may have commited, and the evidence they have to support that.

    Perhaps you would like to link to my comment where I suggest EC can enact laws. Of course they cannot do that – only Parliament can do that. You do not assist your argument by making things up.

    You are wrong in your assertion EC cannot enforce the law. You need to read the EA. Just where do you think they get their authority to obtain a search warrant? Why do you think they can get a search warrant, and investigate and ultimately charge a party with an offence under the Act if they do not have the power to enforce the law?

    While I understand your desperate need to equate the breach of the Elections Act with a speeding ticket, it is simply not true. A speeding ticket nets you a fine of a few hundred dollars. An offence under the EA can result in fines in the thousands of dollars, and possible deregistration of the CPC.

    More importantly, there is a difference between a ticket, which is what is referred to as a “strict liability” offence (which does not require the prosecution to prove intent to commit the offence), and an offence under the EA, which does requires proof of intent. When the Crown’s burden is more onerous, that means the offence is more serious.

    This leads us back to my previous comment in response to OS’s suggestion that it does not matter if the CPC committed an offence, preferring to blame the “crazy” election law instead of the CPC for knowingly breaching the legislation.

    (And yes, I know no charges have been laid so I am not accusing the CPC of being guilty. I am simply responding to OS’s suggestion that it does not matter if they are).

    You also fail in your attempt to minimize the seriousness of the refund claims. You see, if EC is correct that the refunds claimed were actually based on the expenses incurred by the national party, in violation of the EA, it means the refund claim is fraudulent. Some people equate fraud with theft – for good reason.

  • Colin

    Gayle,

    Once again you confuse an accounting regulation with a law.

    EC cannot enact or enforce laws. The law courts will decide IF there was a violation of the regulations at which time a small fine will be paid. Kinda like a speeding ticket.

    To conflate this with stealing tax dollars through what you consider to be unearned refunds is to confuse your tax return with raiding your neighbours cookie jar.

    The courts will decide if the CPC interpreted the regulations properly, not you and certainly not EC.

  • Gayle

    Oldschool

    Get serious. It does not matter if they broke the law because it was their own money??? You are aware that the law is in place to ensure a level playing field during elections. It does not matter if you think it is “crazy” – it is still the law, and the CPC are bound by it.

    Not to mention the fact they are claiming 700 thousand TAX PAYER dollars as refunds, by lying…some might say that is theft – so there goes your “it is their own money” theory.

  • tdwebste

    Right now the Liberals commit political suicide by continued unconditional support of the Conservatives until 2009.
    After the Liberals protecting the Conservatives for their complete term. Wouldn’t you ask WHO should you vote for? The Conservatives are BAD, but the Liberals obviously support/protect them.

    Every time the Liberals promise to delay the election, they lose credibility. Unfortately as Dion’s leadership protects the Conservatives, he destroyes the Liberal party. And because the Bloc or NDP are unlikely to form a government, the Consevatives will win a minority government again 2009. And the world will ask us why Canadian’s have become so corrupt. Much like the world ask today why the Americans are so bad after relecting Bush in 2004.

    If Dion cares about the Liberal party, if he cares about Canada, he would stop supporting the Conservatives. And when he stood up he would discover people will stand by him to fight united and strong.

  • Oldschool

    In and Out financing . . .
    Like whose money was it???
    Like why do we have such crazy election laws . . . must be a lefty thing!!!
    At least they used their own money . . not stealing from taxpayers as was the previous regeme.
    Question: How much of the stolen funds have the LPC repaid? Whe can we expect to get the balance???

    Remember Thomas Jefferson: “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”

  • Mugabe has arrested about 90 his electoral commission officials. Presently, teachers who usually help run elections and who will be needed for the presidential runoff, are threatening to go on strike because 120 or so have been assaulted by people associated with him.

    Democracy isn’t automatic. It has been to established every day.

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