Monday, July 21, 2008

Election Amendment Act (2008), aka the the BC Liberal’s Gag Law.

There are some good articles and discussion taking place with respect to the Election Amendment Act (2008), aka the the BC Liberal’s Gag Law.

They have enough savvy lawyers sucking up taxpayer dollars to know that this would not fly in a court of law, it’s totally unconstitutional.

However being good Canadians, most of us don’t like to actually purposefully break laws, well, I would perhaps qualify that and say
there are those amongst us, say in BC, who aren’t concerned about pesky little things like legislation or moral rightness, but most of us like to toe the line.

In any event, a group of seven of the large unions and the BC Federation of Labour are launching a court case challenging Bill 42 for trying to gag them with regard to advertising during the lead up to the election period.

What is not generally part of this discussion is the disenfranchising aspects of this draconian law. For most of us, presenting “government issued” identification and documents that contain our place of residence to the chief electoral officer at the time of voting is not a problem, nor an issue. But, it is a VERY BIG issue for
the thousands of BC citizens who are now homeless, as far as I’m aware they didn’t lose their right to be citizens of BC and Canada because they are homeless, apparently there was a memo amongst the BC Liberals that this was the case (joke). We should try to get that through an FOI request.

It is also a HUGE issue for those of our citizens who are recipients of income assistance and have had the further misfortune to lose their identification. It is standard operating policies of the income assistance division, which has been subsumed into the Ministry of Housing & Social Development (soon to be re-named the Ministry of Homelessness, Sorrow & Despair for anyone who has to deal with it, work in it or is involved in it’s pending privatization) that these already marginalized citizens will not be given funds to obtain ANY new identification if welfare already has copies on file. And if you’ve ever lost your wallet, as most of us have at some time (or had it stolen), you know how expensive it is to order it all again. It’s certainly beyond most poor people’s ability to afford. Maybe hapless and sure to be short-lived “leader” Rich “it wasn’t a conflict of interest” Coleman might want to show a little moral fibre and flex a muscle or two and ensure that all individuals on income assistance actually have ID in time for the election.

It’s funny, I think the United Nations and International media that will be here for 2010 might be interested in receiving a report about a government that not prevents poor and homeless people from voting, but also creates government policies that ensure that if the poor are lucky enough to even have homes, they won’t fund identification so they can participate in that little thing we like to call “democracy.” The fact that this has to even be discussed in Canada in 2008 is the truest example of the sheer contempt, arrogance and hostility the BC Liberals hold for the citizens of BC and for our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens. To legislate the disenfranchisement of an entire socio-economic class of citizens from participation in democracy illustrates that BC truly has sunk below banana republics the world over. Mugabe and his thugs may have committed lots of intimidation and other deplorable practices in their elections, but he never actually stooped so low as to legislatively prevent citizens from voting. Way to go BC Liberals!!! You’ve sunk us lower than Zimbabwe and a whole lot of other nations that the west likes to think of as “uncivilized.” Funny, some of those nations of the South have some lessons to teach all of us about democracy. And, for the likes of the Honourable Wally Oppal to be part of this tripe, need we say more about what that says about him, a former judge and a man who comes from a community that has had to fight for decades for the franchise. Your community and fellow judges must be proud.

Voting record on Bill 42

It seems pretty clear that THE essential question for those candidates who will run again in May 2009 while they are out campaigning, especially at all candidates meetings and community events, is what was their vote was on the Election Amendment Ac (Bill 42)? And if they voted “yea” then they are automatically disqualified from running, or EVER AGAIN setting foot in the Legislature, the “People’s House.” For some of the more namby-pamby who might disagree with that harsh assessment, think about this: if an MLA voted for this bill, they have failed the first test of politics. They have failed entirely at DEMOCRACY by pledging their support for an unconstitutional, disenfranchising and morally corrupt piece of legislation that has brought shame to the Province of BC at an international level. It’s really as simple as that. If after serving three years (or more for those who have served more terms) they don’t get the basics of Democracy, they have self-selected and taken themselves out of the political gene pool.

What those of us who care about this can do is ensure that our fellow citizens, family members etc. have access to the Voting Records of their MLA’s.
It is all on the Hansard and citizens should know whether MLA’s are voting against their interests. The records can be found right here.

Regime Change

Finally, let’s not be disheartened, it’s time for enthusiasm, excitement and regime change. We’ve got time and with the mad skillz of many of us bloggers, journalists and social justice activists, we can ensure the voting public (what is left of it) has ALL the information they need to know that Gordon Campbell and his merry band of MLA’s, his shallow gene pool of a Cabinet, his insiders, political operatives and corporate hacks have taken each and one of us for a ride, jacked our best resources and that if they get in again, there won’t be a damn thing left for any of our kids and their kids…

There is nothing in the new legislation that present us citizen journalists from “getting the word” out right up to the day of the election (see below).

We’re also facing the echo and impact of an American financial disaster that I suspect will make the Depression look like a cake walk compared to what will be happening to Campbell’s friends to the South. And don’t forget, Campbell and his brethren have privatized A LOT of our resources and services to American and transnational corporations that are about to take a beating they can’t possibly stop. People tend to blame sitting governments for financial disasters and everything else they’ve done which harms the interests of citizens, which many of us are documenting in technicolour detail, we’re in for an interesting lead up to the BC election 2009. No more negativity, We CAN and WILL take back “our House” in May 2009.

Bill 42

How Gag Law May Bite Its Makers
Election free speech without fines? Start your own BC party.

By Robert D. Holmes
Published: July 17, 2008

Identification issue

8 Section 41 (3) is repealed and the following substituted:
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) (b), an applicant may produce to the election official
(a) one document, issued by the Government of British Columbia or Canada, that contains the applicant's name and photograph, and place of residence,
(b) one document, issued by the Government of Canada, that certifies that the applicant is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act (Canada), or
(c) at least 2 documents of a type authorized by the chief electoral officer, both of which contain the applicant's name and at least one of which contains the applicant's place of residence.
(3.1) The chief electoral officer must publish each year, in a manner that he or she considers appropriate, a notice setting out the types of documents that are authorized for the purposes of subsection (3) (c).

Election Advertising

59 Section 228 is amended by repealing the definition of "election advertising" and substituting the following:

"election advertising" means the transmission to the public by any means, during the period beginning 120 days before a campaign period and ending at the end of the campaign period, of an advertising message that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party or the election of a candidate, including an advertising message that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated, but does not include
(a) the publication without charge of news, an editorial, an interview, a column, a letter, a debate, a speech or a commentary in a bona fide periodical publication or a radio or television program,
(b) the distribution of a book, or the promotion of the sale of a book, for no less than its commercial value, if the book was planned to be made available to the public regardless of whether there was to be an election,
(c) the transmission of a document directly by a person or a group to their members, employees or shareholders, or
(d) the transmission by an individual, on a non-commercial basis on the internet, or by telephone or text messaging, of his or her personal political views; .

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