Monday, April 18, 2011

Canada's Silly Elections Act

Electiosn Act prohibits foreign opinion on Canadian politics?

As the 2011 federal election has entered its final two weeks, the Green Party is rushing to put out a brush fire started by some well-meaning Australian Greens.

A YouTube video, entitled "Sydney, Australia to Sidney, BC" has surfaced, in which members of the Australian Green Party endorse Green Party leader Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands.

To most Canadians, something like this would barely raise an eyebrow. But according to Elections Canada, this is actually unlawful under the Elections Act. Under section 331 of the Elections Act: "No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting . . . for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident."

The Green Party should be commended for its efforts to ensure their international supporters respect the Elections Act. But, quite frankly, not only is Section 331 the most unenforcable law ever written, it's also grossly unconstitutional -- in numerous countries.

What Section 331 basically states is that if anyone who is not a citizen of Canada has an opinion on who should win a Canadian election, they are to keep it to themselves. Not only is that a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it's also a violation of such freedoms anywhere else that they are legally-entrenched.

So how would Elections Canada go about enforcing this law? The simple fact of the matter is that they can't. They have no authority to tread into foreign countries and charge their citizens under Canadian law.

Perhaps foreign citizens shouldn't endorse candidates in Canadian elections. But that's a matter of opinion.

Section 331 needs to be struck from the Elections Act at the earliest opportunity.

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