March 23, 2012
In response to Democracy Canada’s call for a second day of action to protest voter suppression in last year’s federal election, concerned citizens in Kelowna will be meeting on Saturday, March 31, at 1:00 at The Sails. The previous day of action on March 11 saw people from 32 cities in Canada converge to call for a public inquiry into the robo-call affair.
Thirty-one thousand Canadians have reported irregularities in the last election, and 700 incidents are under investigation by Elections Canada. While some like to portray the misleading robo-calls as trivial and characteristic of the dirty tricks that all politicians take part in, harassing voters at odd hours of the day or night and deliberately misleading voters by telling them to go to incorrect or non-existent polling stations is not a case of politics as usual. Harassing voters and misleading them are voter suppression techniques and they are unjust and illegal.
Jean-Pierre Kingsley, a former chief electoral officer at Elections Canada, has called the scope of the illegal robo-calls unprecedented and says that jail time should definitely be considered if the allegations can be proven. The allegations must be dealt with swiftly and transparently because they erode our democracy and cast real doubt on the legitimacy of the Conservative’s claim to a majority government. Regardless of who might be behind the scandal, protecting democracy is a non-partisan issue.
According to a recent Postmedia News poll, 75 per cent of Canadians support a call for an independent inquiry with judicial powers to look into the robo-call affair. Prime Minister Harper has countered by saying that Elections Canada is invested by law to investigate and must continue in its role. But Elections Canada will not obtain all of its promised new investigative powers for at least another six months, when required legislation might be passed. Moreover, Canadians have seen with the in-and-out fraud of 2006 how seriously and for what length of time Elections Canada can become bogged down in acrimonious litigation, right up to the Supreme Court. For these reasons, Canadians need a public inquiry into the Robocall fraud, and we need it today.
In Kelowna, the second ‘Get Fraud Out of Parliament’ rally will cross over in time and place with a ‘Costs of War’ peace gathering organized by the Kelowna Peace Group. Organizers of each event see an obvious affinity between those who seek justice and those who seek peace. The peace gathering is, like the protest rally, the second event of its kind to fall within the month of March. On March 3, peace activists gathered at The Sails to call for peace in the Middle East.
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