Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stealing Our Democracy: Linda Frum, Talking Points and the Dumbf

*Dumbf = dumbfuckery - a condition that appears to be unique to the creation of Harper Government talking points regarding Bill C-23.

On Huffington Post this morning, I read Michael Bolen's commentary on Bill C-23 which led me to Linda Frum's more verbose op-ed defending her TWITter position from earlier this week.

Ms. Frum is a shadow of her brother when it comes to writing political polemics, and the Op-Ed which the Globe and Mail had the poor judgement to publish demonstrates that in spades.

According to Ms. Frum, there's a conflict of interest in the mandated missions of Elections Canada.
Here’s the institutional conflict of interest to which I pointed: 
Elections Canada is a bureaucracy with two missions: to ensure the integrity of the voting process and also to promote voter turnout. Those two missions are contradictory. You want the biggest vote total? Accept every ballot. You want to eliminate voter fraud? Eliminating improper ballots may reduce vote totals. 
In attempting to achieve a balance between these two different missions, the evidence suggests that Elections Canada has favoured its turnout goals over preserving the integrity of the process.
Seriously?  Ms. Frum's "evidence" for this claim?
Elections expert Harry Neufeld – no supporter of the Harper government’s proposed reforms – nevertheless reported that “some 11.8 per cent of all registration activity on Election Day in May, 2011, showed serious errors, according to the national audit undertaken for this review. That … equals 114,693 voters potentially having the validity of their votes put in question.” How serious are those irregularities? We don’t know, because Elections Canada does not investigate. 
Oh ... right.  So, along come the Conservatives with a piece of legislation that responds to this issue by making it harder for so many more Canadians to vote.  Okay, the Neufeld report identifies a significant percent of election day voter registrations had errors in them.  Rather than order an in-depth investigation of the errors and addressing the causes, the Conservatives have written a law which is clearly designed to benefit their electoral goals over addressing the actual problem. 

If these "serious errors" are the result of clerical errors (incorrect transcriptions of addresses into the voter registry, misspelling names etc.), that doesn't speak to any kind of widespread voter fraud, but rather a series of issues with procedures and training.  
Consider the most problematic of all forms of voting: where the voter has no identification. In those cases, current law allows an acquaintance, friend or relative of the voter to “vouch for” that person’s right to vote. The voter in question may be a legitimate voter who genuinely lacks ID. The voter may be a visiting relative who isn’t entitled to vote in that district – or even to vote in Canada at all. Or the voter may be valid – but have already used their ID to vote once that day and is now lining up without ID to do it a second time.
This is classic Harper Government tactics - assert that something is happening, and then claim that it is an enormous problem.  Vouching has been part of our voting system for decades.  To the best of my knowledge, there is not a shred of evidence that there is any significant amount of voter fraud taking place using this mechanism, much less on a scale which has a chance of materially affecting the outcome of an election.

One of the key issues in Bill C-23 is that it is attempting to address "voter fraud", when there is precious little evidence of Voter fraud in Canada.  On the other hand, we have very clear evidence of electoral campaign fraud starting in 2006 (In-and-Out Scandal), and 2011 (Robocalls) perpetrated by the campaign machinery of the Conservatives Party.  These misdeeds are not addressed at all by C-23, and arguably clauses in C-23 are designed to further enable political parties to engage in this kind of electoral cheating.

Notable is that nobody in the CPC seems to be standing up and saying that C-23 is wrong.  Nary a peep from backbench MPs, or the party apparatus at the riding level.  Remember this next election - the Harper Government has not chosen to represent the interests of Canadians, but rather to entrench its own cynical political interests in law.

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