Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Let's have a moratorium on our government deciding who's Canadian and who's not, OK?

Steven Fletcher's reaction to the bill introduced in the Senate to limit advertising outside of election campaigns:
Steven Fletcher, the Conservative minister of state for democratic reform, immediately slammed the bill as an anti-democratic and "un-Canadian" assault on free speech.
"It certainly seems like it will severely limit freedom of speech and that's un-Canadian and hurts our democracy," Fletcher said in an interview.
In Canada, as Mr. Fletcher should well know since he has a ministerial title, our Supreme Court has accepted limits on third party political advertising in the form of monetary spending limits. The case was called Harper v. Canada. Ask your boss, he'll tell you all about his failed years of litigating the case where he sought to achieve the American system of unregulated spending. And he'll surely speak in glowing terms about it.

Spending limits and other reasonable limitations upon rights articulated in the Charter are part and parcel of our constitutional system and are a normal part of the interaction between the legislature and the courts. It's all very Canadian in fact. Look up Section 1 of the Charter, Mr. Fletcher.

And STOP telling us who is a good Canadian and who is not.

Update: The point of this bill, as I understand it, is to prevent political parties from avoiding spending limits by running political advertising in the period immediately preceding a general election. No one is going to prevent Mr. Fletcher's party from running ads in advance of the writ period. But under the bill, if they advertise in the three months before an election period, that spending would count against the agreed spending limits. In other words, we're talking about rules, fairness and abiding by limits. Nothing "un-Canadian" about that.