Monday, 2 May 2011

Election Day

Today is Election Day in Canada. It’s illegal to sell alcohol today because of laws dating back to the nineteenth century so I bought a bottle of wine yesterday to either console myself or celebrate in the unlikely situation of a Conservative loss – a late harvest Vidal wine from the Niagara region of Ontario. It’s not a bad wine but not the greatest. I’m also cautious about what I can write because of broadcast laws which date to 1938 and were later revised to include the Internet.

Section 329: "No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district."

Section 495 (4)(d): "Every person is guilty of an offence who… wilfully contravenes section 329."

Section 500 (4): "Every person who is guilty of an offence under subsection 495(4) is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $25,000."

I think that it safe to say that there are three possible outcomes for the election – a Conservative majority, a Conservative minority or an opposition coalition government. The Liberals still consider themselves to be the natural governing party of Canada and have stated that they would never join a coalition to form a government although they have done poorly with a declining trend in electoral support during the last couple of elections. The question is how they would argue that a government which they brought down on a vote of contempt of parliament is preferable to an opposition coalition. Speaker of the house, Peter Milliken, made a ruling on contempt of parliament. This is the first time in Canadian history that a government has fallen due to a non confidence vote on this topic as well as in the 54 countries of the Commonwealth. The wording is as follows:

That this House denounce the conduct of the government, its disregard for democracy and its determination to go to any lengths to advance its partisan interests and impose its regressive ideology, as it did by justifying the Conservative Party's circumvention of the rules on election spending in the 2005-2006 election campaign, when the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism used public funds to solicit donations to the Conservative Party, when the Party used taxpayers’ money to finance a pre-election campaign under the guise of promoting Canada’s Economic Action Plan, when it changed the wording in government communications to promote itself, when it showed that it is acceptable for a minister to alter a document and make misleading statements to the House, when it refused to provide a parliamentary committee with the costs of its proposals, and when it improperly prorogued Parliament.

I’ll have more to say after the election results have been tabulated.

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