“Instead, the official reiterated the government’s position that political parties and candidates, not Elections Canada, would be responsible for increasing voter turnout under Bill C-23.”
That’s the altogether revealing comment that might have slipped past you in a Hill Times article last month which showed that a 2008 Elections Canada ad which was seemingly critical of industry — and which Conservatives had pointed to as evidence that Elections Canada needed to be stripped of the ability to encourage people to vote — never actually aired in the first place.
“The ad—a 25-second video that contrasts urban pollution and emissions to an evergreen forest as it urges youth to “vote, shape your world”—was created for Elections Canada but cancelled in 2007 by the newly installed chief electoral officer that year, Marc Mayrand.”
The obvious irony — that the allegedly partisan commercial was pulled because it was considered not objective enough, and yet is being used to silence impartial voter encouragement — is significant on its own. But it becomes that much more jaw-dropping in the face of the Harper government’s position: that it was important to end impartial voter drives, in favour of clearly partisan ones.
Stephen Harper has made no secret that his aim is to reshape Canada so that the Conservatives become the nation’s “natural governing party.” He’s been arguably helped by the fact that the anyone-but-conservative vote has been split among three parties, with few other distinctions among them — especially since the NDP dropped socialism from its platform and the Liberals have been adept at obscuring their own neoliberal track record. The hypocrisies already noted about the Harper government’s “Fair Elections Act” have already revealed that this bill is intended to help achieve this natural governing status, but the comment above reveals that the use of the bill goes much deeper than the mainstream media has already realized.
One such nuance was unearthed at The Cracked Crystal Ball II, which noted the introduction of partisan election officials empowered to examine ID at voting stations:
“This is unprecedented. At no time in my recollection have the party scrutineers at polling stations ever had any specific right to inspect the ID provided by a voter. In adding this particular clause, the very process of obtaining a ballot has just become subject to political interference…”
Another less-noted change is this: that the Conservatives want a conscious and deliberate shift away from impartial agencies encouraging voters, and toward parties handling voter drives.
There is, of course, a benefit to the Conservatives to doing so. The party has demonstrated in the past that it has learned from American parties’ use of social issues to push ideologically-driven conservatives to the polls while shaming and demoralizing progressives and moderates to discourage them from doing the same.
The change would be sure to help any party trained in whipping its voter base into a fearful frenzy. It’s not hard to guess which party has made an art of doing exactly that.