Tuesday, May 26, 2009

About That New Gag Law Mr. Ignatieff

H/T- Gerry Nichol's

So it seems that a Liberal Senator has put forth a bill in senate that would effectively gag any party from running political ads three months prior to an election being called.
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2009/05/26/9577001-cp.html

I'm sure this can't be in anyway related to the new Conservative ads aimed at Michael Ignatieff. After all, why would you ban something that you keep repeating is not working? And I would imagine that as Liberal Party leader, Ignatieff is on side with this proposed legislation.

So here are a few questions I would have for Mr. Ignatieff and the senator putting forth the bill.

1. Say you had a provincial Premier, let's call him, uh, Danny Williams. If he ran political ads three months before an election which party would have those expenses applied to their campaign limit?

2. Say you had a group of people, let's call them the Ontario Teachers Union, who ran political ads three months before an election. Which party would have those expenses applied to their campaign limit.

3. Say you had a disgruntled group of income trust people, let's call them Caiti, who run ads in farmers fields in the Finance Ministers office three months before an election. Which party would have those expenses charged to their campaign limit?

4. What if you had a party leader so enamored with himself sitting beside the POTUS, he decided to spend money to get his mug featured on Times Square three months before an election. Which party gets those expenses charged to their campaign limit.

5. Duhhhh, YouTube. 'Nuff said.

So as you can see, this new gag law has a hole as big as the years Iggy spent out of Canada from being enforceable.

39 comments:

Luke said...

What a bunch of bulls--t. I thought I saw a news story like that earlier when I was scanning a news site.

If you can't beat it, ban it.

Ted said...

What ban? What gag?

All the law does is say: you want to run campaign style election attack ads? Fine, but let's treat them like campaign election ads so that money is not deciding our democracy for us, so pig-headed Prime Ministers like Martin and Harper can plan an election, control the timing of an election and then gear up for the eleciton with attack ads on the other side.

I thought you guys were trying to be the party of democracy, trying to make sure big money didn't decide who is in government.

Did all that change when Harper cancelled Parliament to save his job? or was it earlier when he broke campaign finance laws to defeat Martin? or even earlier when he offered Cadman "financial considerations" for his vote?

kursk said...

Ted

Whoa there big fella...

You better put up some proof of those allegations you just made, otherwise besides being libelous, they are blatant falsehoods.

...Or are you just taking through your ass?

kursk said...

Ted

Whoa there big fella...

You better put up some proof of those allegations you just made, otherwise besides being libelous, they are blatant falsehoods.

...Or are you just taking through your ass?

Ted said...

Which Kursk? That Harper was aware his party was offering "financial consideration" for Cadman's vote? That is on tape. That they broke the campaign finance law? Elections Canada, headed up by a Harper appointee, has determined that they did.

wilson said...

Add to your list
'yah gotta know when the election is before you can call a '3 month prior to election' law valid'

In a minority situation, no one knows when the election is going to be called.
How can you be in violation of a law, when the violation date would have to be backdated?

That's stupid, a trick and would not stand up to a challenge.

Ted said...

REad the bill Wilson. You aren't in violation for putting up the ads. The spend on the ads is simply added to the election spend. If, with these ads included, during the course of the election campaign you go over the limit like the Conservatives did in 2006, THEN you have violated the law. But there is no retroactivity to this.

It closes a big loophole the Conservatives have been using to get around campaign finance laws. Martin did the same. This is not a partisan issue, just closing a loophole.

Brrr said...

I think there might be a simple way around those gags anyway.

Set up or appoint a separate entity that is not the actual party. This would be a concerned grassroots activist group. Then encourage your members NOT to donate to the party as much as they have, but to send some love the way of that other organization. Have that organization register for their own third party status, and away they go with the ads. Basically, instant doubling of the available limit during a campaign.

Heck set up SEVERAL of these organizations, so we can use three, four, five times the advertising budget if we have sufficient donations to do so.

Again, never have the party transfer money to them, or have official party people running them, just let your supporters know about them, you know, just to be informative.

Luke said...

The chief objection is that this is a violation of one's right to free speech, as well as free expression. Why do you want to restrict political debate to election seasons only? Why shouldn't Canadians be allowed to be informed about their leaders prior to the five to seven week campaign cycle we have in Canada?

I think all gags and bans should be lifted on political donations and advertising pre-writ and otherwise.

mike said...

Ted,

Do you think that Ignatieff is behind this senate bill?

Also, what about Grit Girl you tube postings that should up on Kinsella's blog in March. Would these style of ATTACK Ads be under covered under the current bill in the senate?

Mike said...

Ugg, I pushed publish a little to quick

Ted,

Do you think that Ignatieff is behind this senate bill?

Also, what about Grit Girl YouTube postings that showed up on
Warren Kinsella's blog in March. Would these style of ATTACK Ads be covered under the current bill in the senate?

Lastly, what were the financial considerations offered to Cadman for his vote by Stephen Harper?

Ted you seem very knowledgeable about political events and I am hoping that you can help me with those questions.

paulsstuff said...

Ted, you never addressed of any of the points of the post. Why should groups like Caiti and Danny William be allowed to run ads to the detriment of one party unfettereed, yet a political party gets charged that ad as an expense.As for this comment:

"I thought you guys were trying to be the party of democracy, trying to make sure big money didn't decide who is in government.

Did all that change when Harper cancelled Parliament to save his job? or was it earlier when he broke campaign finance laws to defeat Martin? or even earlier when he offered Cadman "financial considerations" for his vote?"

1. Liberal's put out a release stating they wanted to get $25 million in fundraising to match the Tory warchest. Now they want to put a law into efffect to rstrict how a parties money is spent?
2.I'd be happy to provide examples of Liberal's proroguing Parliamnet.
3. 1997 election. Adscam funds flowing to Quebec ridings. Liberal's get bare majority.And you might want to wait for the decision in the court case before saying they broke rules.
4. Cadman Ted. I thought you were better than that. Didn't the RCMP investigate and find nothing? Cadman's widow dismissed the allegations.Million dollar life insurance for a terminally ill man Ted? I have trouble getting insurance with high cholesterol!

Calgary Junkie said...

Harper and his team have been beating the Libs in just about every aspect of the political game since Jan, 2006. Since they can't compete, the Libs want to change the rules. Gotta stop that bleeding from 135 to 100 to 77 seats.

Another stumbling block for this Bill is that I can't see the Dippers or BLOC going along with it. After all, they must be enjoying watching the two top dogs fighting each other. Although the Libs aren't putting up much of a fight, only "defending" Iggy on YouTube.

wilson said...

Maybe you don't get what I said Ted.

That would be like Revenue Canada changing a rule on January 1, but applying the rule to Oct to Dec of the previous year,
without warning.
It would not hold up a court challenge.

Elections Canada is not an organization that the parties can toy with, it is a government authority.

The date of the election would have to be known, before the rule would be valid and enforceable.

wilson said...

BTW, 2 Senate seats vacant in June, total of 6 by Sept,
total of 12 by years end.......then 2 more early 2010, if no election first,
Cons will have a majority in the Senate by the time the 2010 budget is rolled out.

Me thinks that is more what is driving the Libs than any EI reform,
it's always about power for a Lib.

Jen said...

Really, then every liberal media will be gagged as well. they have been running attack ads daily on the prime minister.

Ignatieff is doing exactly what OBAMA did to FOX news after BIDEN said something about OBAMA(not appealling to OBAMA ears); they banned Fox news from airing the tape to the public.

Ted said...

Luke:

I am more inclined to agree with you than you might think, i.e. get rid of the campaign finance rules and restrictions. But we are where we are: i.e. if we are stuck with a regulatory regime over campaigning, then lets plug the loopholes so everyone is playing by the same rules.

paulsstuff said...

I agree with your last post Ted, but in this regard I don't see it as a loophole. The Conservative's have suceeded quite well in fundraising under rules imposed by Liberal's. You yourself have stated Liberal fundraising is on the upswing, and I'm sure Liberal's will have no qualms running ads when finances allow it. In fact they did it in the past. If there is a change to funding I'l repeat my idea from the past.

As it stands now, the Bloc has a tremendous advantage over all other parties via the $1.95 per vote subsidy, as they only campaign in Quebec. Less advertising, travel, sign costs, etc. What I would like to see is this.

Keep the $1.95 per vote. Add in a divider, number of ridings run in divided by 308 ridings. So if a party runs a candidate in all 308 ridings they get 100% of their number of votes X $1.95. In the Bloc's case, they would get 24% of the number of votes X $1.95.
(candidates run in 75 ridings, 24% of 308).

This would definately piss off the Bloc and those suporting seperation in Quebec. It would also help level the playfield for the Tories, Liberal's, Dippers, and even Green's.

Ted said...

Mike:

I would be surprised if Ignatieff was not at least aware of the attempt to close the campaign advertising loophole, if he wasn't part of the planning.

Would youtube videos be caught? Again, the aim here seems to be to close a loophole. You could argue that there is an even bigger loophole in that there are few restrictions on non-party advertising, which would include youtube of course.

And I have very mixed views on the kind of shadow campaign Brrr talks about and have been very destructive in the US now for years. The nudge nudge wink wink way around the campaign finance rules by use "arms length" groups. Fortunately here, there is not the same kind of tax breaks that would provide such groups with the same kind of 75% tax deduction subsidy that registered parties get.

In the end, I think there is no way that we could or should regulate non-party advertising. The damage to free speech and the impossibility of regulation just overwhelmingly override any benefit. The parties themselves though are a limited group, asking the voters for the levers of government, hugely subsidized by the taxpayer (both through the 75% tax deductions where, today, non-Conservatives subsidize the Conservative Party, and the more democratic $1.95 per vote subsidy)... so with that, I think some regulation of campaign spending is justifiable in attempting to slightly level the playing field.

Just have to close the loophole on campaign attack ad campaigns just before an election.

paulsstuff said...

Ted, if I understand it correctly, Danny William's used Newfoundland taxpayer money for his ABC ads. I could be wrong, but that was the way I heard it.

What do you think of my funding formula for the $1.95 vote subsidy?

Ted said...

Mike/Paul:

On the bribery/financial considerations/Cadman stuff:

Let's be clear here: I did not accuse Harper or the Conservatives of bribing Cadman for his vote. Harper said that "financial consideration" was being offered to Cadman to get him to vote against the Liberals. If this financial arrangement for a vote was bribe it would be criminal. But even if it is not criminal, it is clearly highly unethical and repugnant. Which is why Cadman was so upset that his former party would treat him that way.

And no, Paul, his wife did not dismiss the allegations. Read through everything that she has ever said. She has said she was very angry at the offer by the party, she has said she does not think Harper did anything wrong (he was very clever sending Finlay and Reynolds (or was it Muttart?) in to do the dirty work). She has never recanted what she said about the financial offer and she has never raised any questions about what her daughter or son-in-law say about what Chuck told them was offered. In fact, she refuses to say anything now. Hmmmm.

As for what the financial consideration for his vote actually was... I don't know. For some reason, Harper and the Conservatives have not really come clean on this and there has been strikingly inconsistent testimony on this by them before their lawyer bailed on them and then they bailed on their SLAP lawsuit as the real facts started to come out and the political usefulness of a libel suit faded.

I don't know if they offered cash and pretended this was for an election campaign he couldn't run because he was dying, if it was a promise to keep him on the party health and life insurance benefits package even though he was sick already, or if it was an offer to guarantee or pay for life insurance for him. Until Harper comes clean on this, we may never know what the Conservatives offered Cadman for his vote.

And as for insurance for a dying man, Paul: again, I don't know if this is what the Conservatives offered for his vote, but the fact is that it is entirely possible to get insurance for Cadman. I can think of a number of ways: (1) when I got my group insurance for $1M at my company, I never did a physical - it was automatic upon becoming an employee or a partner, and I'm sure the party has a similar plan, (2) if you have a group policy, you can increase it up to certain limits without a physical, (3) an insurance company insures or does not insure against risks, so if you paid them $1M premium they would happily give you a $1M policy, but in fact a $1M policy would cost much less if you are trying to get the business of a whole party apparatus with money to burn and it is not 100% clear when Cadman would pass. Again, I don't know if this is what Cadman was complaining about when he complained that he was offered a $1M insurance policy by the Conservatives, but it is certainly more than feasible.

But the Cadman "financial considerations" for his vote issue was just one example among many of how Harper has little regard for democracy and democratic processes. I concede that Harper has gotten away with that one and think we should be focusing on more current and relevant events of today: like Harper saying he will need to raise taxes if the budget goes higher (which it did), like a 50% increase in the Harper deficit so soon after he guaranteed we would only have a $30B deficit.

Hope that answers your questions.

paulsstuff said...

Ted, Cadman's duaghter, no fan of Haper, admitted herself that Cadman thought he would run in the next election. I'm sure he was most likely in denial about his condiition, which I'm sure I would be as well.

It is not unusual for any party to offer the fincial consideration's the PM did. Cadman had been elected as an independant, and was worried about the financial ramifications of having to run again. The Conservative's wanted him to run as a Tory candidate, and as such he would receive similar help with campaign costs through the party.

If'm not mistaken I believe Bill Casey said independants are not allowed to fundraise between elections. If that's the case, it would be easy to see Chuck's concern over fighting an election.

paulsstuff said...

As for your Liberal talking point about the deficit being larger, I would point out that government predictions are made using private sector analysis. The government used worse figures for the economy than the economists who supplied the information, and were therefore less off than the experts, including TD Don Drummond, who the Liberal's trot out when needed.

And watch for the May employment numbers. It might surprise you.

Ted said...

"Keep the $1.95 per vote. Add in a divider, number of ridings run in divided by 308 ridings. So if a party runs a candidate in all 308 ridings they get 100% of their number of votes X $1.95. In the Bloc's case, they would get 24% of the number of votes X $1.95.
(candidates run in 75 ridings, 24% of 308)."
I like this kind of thinking. I prefer the $1.95 per vote subsidy to the 75% tax deduction subsidy because it is more democratic and it means that I don't have to subsidize the Conservatives as I am forced to do now. But I am not completely comfortable with it either since it is a disincentive to trying to connect to real voters.

Ted said...

Oh, forgot to add, that it would be great if all three federalist parties combined for an ad to highlight that the Bloc only survive using federal taxpayer dollars. Would never happen but it would be pretty cool.

Maybe a youtube video is in order?

Anonymous said...

Ted said, "lets plug the loopholes so everyone is playing by the same rules."

Another Liberal lie, all parties are playing by the same rules, it just so happens that the Liberals can't ever hope to compete with the Conservatives at fund raising so they try to move the goal posts.

Reminds me of Dion, "it's not fair."

Lieberals, go figure.

paulsstuff said...

"Oh, forgot to add, that it would be great if all three federalist parties combined for an ad to highlight that the Bloc only survive using federal taxpayer dollars. Would never happen but it would be pretty cool."

Good idea Ted. But you do realize somewhere Elizabeth May is angry at you right now.

Ted said...

Paul:

Who?

Ted said...

Anonymous 11:06:

I seem to recall Conservatives jumping up and down whining it wasn't fair that Martin started campaigning before an election. No difference here except now we have a positive suggestion to eliminate the advantage the governing party has since they control timing of an election. And as we saw in 2008, Harper will use election timing to his advantage despite his own fixed election date promise and law.

Anonymous said...

Ted said, "a positive suggestion to eliminate the advantage the governing party has since they control timing of an election."

What a load of BS, try as you might to spin this, but you Liberals just totally suck at fund raising Ted.

Ted said...

Which party lost 5000 donors last quarter year-over-year? Which party dropped $500,000 in donations?

And which party gained 5000 donors last quarter? and which party gained $900,000 in donations?

We don't have the party machinery or the government machinery that the Conservatives do and are well behind, for sure. But we're just getting started.

paulsstuff said...

"Which party lost 5000 donors last quarter year-over-year? Which party dropped $500,000 in donations?"

Just a guess but I would wager it was the same party that saw donations skyrocket in the last quarter of 2008. That whole coalition thing. mThere are limits how much one can donate in a year. Unless you have an imaginary leadership race. Than you can triple dip.

paulsstuff said...

OTTAWA -- The governing Conservatives raised a record $21.2-million in donations in 2008, but the opposition Liberals are gaining momentum in their efforts to rebuild their fundraising machine, newly released figures from Elections Canada show.

Liberal's were only $16 million behind. Should be closer this year Ted. If I were you I'd keep rolling those pennies though.

Ted said...

I wasn't comparing Q1-2009 to Q4-2008 - i agree that would not make sense and not give you any valuable information.

I was comparing Q1-2009 to Q1-2008.

We've got a loooooong way to go, but we're finally clueing in. No wonder Harper is acting so desperate.

paulsstuff said...

"We've got a loooooong way to go, but we're finally clueing in. No wonder Harper is acting so desperate.'

Sure. You can tell he's desperate by how he's caving and backing down to Iggy's E.I. demands lifted from the NDP playbook.

We are in the midst of a recession and he's running around the country doing book signings. Oops, sorry, wrong party leader.

Ted said...

No, you can tell he's desperate by how he is more focused on reviewing decades of tapes of Ignatieff, paying hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads about the leader of the opposition (instead of even praising himself), cancelling or postponing opposition days, making stuff up about payroll tax increases, etc.

We are in the midst of a recession and he's running around the country trying to get people talking about the leader of the opposition instead of the economy, the mind-numbing record breaking Harper deficit. That is, when he's not running out of the country trying to avoid the Canadian press and telling the American press how mild and cyclical our recession is.

paulsstuff said...

I'm pretty sure the PM isn't sitting in a dark dank room looking at old videotape Ted. The parties have people like Kinsella that do that stuff. I'm just wondering if the Liberal's will still want to use Don Drummond as a spokesperson for the party. October 28th he predicted a deficit of $10 billion for 2009.

paulsstuff said...

By the way Ted, you know the way governments project surpluses and deficits. Tell everyone what information they use.

paulsstuff said...

And I'll give you a hint. John McCallum used to be one.