Thursday, May 20, 2004

Memo to Colby Cosh

When other people say that your columns are prescient, that's cool. Unironically calling yourself prescient on the other hand... well, that takes a lot of chutzpah.

That said, Cosh makes a few good points about the new campaign-spending law, which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court. A reader of his, Matt Fenwick, makes some good points too:
What happens if every day during the campaign, the National Post decides to run a full-page ad, free-of-charge, for "Doctors for Private Hospitals"? Is [Elections Canada head] Jean-Pierre Kingsley going to busy himself with assigning arbitrary cash value to this, and hold DFPH or the Post in contempt? What if instead, the Post runs a guest column every day by Dr. Nick Riviera, chairman of DFPH? Is this acceptable? What if instead, they run a Colby Cosh column every day, and each one starts, "I'd like to pass on some more thoughts from my friend Dr. Nick Riviera, chairman of DFPH?" Is this acceptable? And I twitch at the thought of Elections Canada trying to decide what costs to attribute to a mass-emailing campaign.
Why should only established political parties and those with good media contacts be allowed to spread their messages during an election campaign? What does this mean to the Greens and the Marijuana Party or environmental lobby groups who want to press the Liberals on Kyoto? Or gun lobby groups and the NCC for that matter?

As Chief Justice McLachlin said in her dissenting opinion [via Gunter on Across the Board]:
The law at issue sets advertising spending limits for citizens -- called third parties -- at such low levels that they cannot effectively communicate with their fellow citizens on election issues during an election campaign. The practical effect is that effective communication during the writ period is confined to registered political parties and their candidates. Both enjoy much higher spending limits. This denial of effective communication to citizens violates free expression where it warrants the greatest protection -- the sphere of political discourse.[Full decision.]

Speaking of the Marijuana Party, I ran into Enza the Supermodel, the famed transgendered woman/drag queen who ran for mayor of Toronto. She told me that she had been approached by the Marijuana Party to run in the soon-to-be-called federal election and she declined. Well, then...

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