EC: "The ads were 'local' ads"
This quote was brought forward by CPC MP Pierre Poilievre, from the Report of the Chief Electoral Ofﬁcer of Canada on the 36th General Election, regarding the criteria used to identify what consistutes a "local" ad during the 1997 election...
"The criteria applied to determine whether specific advertisements were to be accepted for broadcast were the identity of the sponsor and that of the body or person invoiced. The content of the advertisements accepted was subject only to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter."The preceding quote was regarding the striking down of Section 213 of the Election Act in 1997, which opened the door for local candidates to air ads during the national blackout window on the day before and Election Day itself.
Report of the Chief Electoral Ofﬁcer of Canada on the 36th General Election
What was the criteria used to determine if an ad was "local"?
"the identity of the sponsor [via the taglines] and that of the body or person invoiced. The content of the advertisements accepted was subject only to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the Charter."
What was that? A "local" ad was identified by 1) the sponsor, and 2) who paid for it? Interesting... because if I recall, that's exactly what the Conservatives have been saying all along. Add to that the fact that the ads were aired in their local markets.
So, what does this mean? Well, it means that Elections Canada has changed their definition of a "local" ad. And as such, it means that Elections Canada may be applying a new set of criteria on the Conservative Party of Canada, a new criteria that they would have been completely unaware of during the 2006 election campaign.
So, back in 1997, before they changed the way they interpret the law, they said that a local ad was identified by the sponsor and who paid for it, and that the content of the advertisement was irrelevant, so long as it was in line with the Charter.
So, in light of recent events here's a few important questions...
1) Why is Elections Canada imposing on the Charter Rights, namely freedom of speech, of members of the Conservative Party of Canada by judging the perfectly acceptable content of their ads?
2) When and why did Elections Canada change the way they identify the sponsor by judging the content of a Party's advertisement instead of the taglines, which are there for that very purpose?
3) Why, since they have changed the way they themselves interpret the legislation, has Elections Canada chosen to hold only the Conservative Party of Canada to this new standard?
4) Since this is a change in the way EC determines the sponsor of an ad by judging the content, why did they choose to publicly embarass the Conservative Party of Canada by calling in the RCMP, when the only issue at hand was a change in the way they themselves identify a local vs. a national ad?
Any thoughts on that Jason?
Just asking the questions that need to be asked. Feel free to leave your own answers to these very important questions.
UPDATE: The Globe & Mail is now also reporting this story.