People are already studying the tea leaves (as it were) of Canada’s election, holding forth on the results as if they weren’t in any way affected by attempts to block some votes—how many, and how successful those attempts, we can’t know.
Such blithe analyses are not just incomplete but harmful, as they tacitly confirm the notion that such anti-democratic dirty tricks don’t matter much, if at all. (In this case, the dirty tricks were non-electronic, since Canada is not, unlike the US, cursed with a computerized voting system.)
Lest the broad use of such tactics there slip down the memory hole, here are two pieces worth perusing, and archiving.
Canada Election 2011: Harper Conservatives and voter suppression
by Anne Lagacé Dowson – April 21, 2011
Harper Conservatives and voter suppression
It was a frightening moment at the University of Guelph last Thursday. In the student union, a long line of students were waiting patiently to vote at a special poll. Suddenly a Conservative Party operative storms through the line and tries to steal the ballot box. The upshot of this incident, for students across Canada, has terrible repercussions.
Here’s the background: Political junkies in Canada have watched with dismay as the Harper Conservatives import the strategy and tactics of the Republican right. The two literally worship at the same evangelical altar. But perhaps nothing is more dangerous than the strategy known as voter suppression. If you are between 18 and 25, the Tories don’t respect your right to vote.
Dirty campaign tricks require continued attention
During every federal election campaign issues surface that give rise to complaints to Elections Canada.
Sometimes the agency responds to the complaints quickly and very conspicuously. It did so in the just-ended campaign when it confirmed receipt of a Conservative party complaint arising from the special ballot staged at the University of Guelph, and then quickly ruled on the complaint. More often, however, when the agency seems to field complaints they simply seem to fade away without resolution. One recent Guelph example was the complaint to Elections Canada in 2006 about the out-of-town relatives of Brenda Chamberlain allegedly being sent voter cards to a city address previously used as Chamberlain campaign headquarters. That matter just faded away.
This election saw its share of local matters referred to Elections Canada. On the last day of the campaign alone there were bogus recorded phone calls misdirecting local voters to incorrect polling locations and signage that allegedly skirted federal elections law. Each generated Guelph complaints.