Turning inner space into outer space

April 20, 2011

Not a peep, not even a tweet, about the election

From an opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun comes a reminder that it is absolutely forbidden to publish results of the federal election before polls close in B.C.

You can’t post anything on your blog, you can’t update your Facebook page, you can’t even tweet. If you do, Elections Canada will fine you — possibly to the tune of $1,000.

The idea behind the law is that we in the west might be unduly influenced in how we vote if we know about the results back east. If it looked like the Conservatives were headed for a majority, for example, would some of us change our vote to try to prevent it? This kind of strategic voting is possible, and it likely takes place anyway — even when westerners don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the country.

But so what? It’s our choice.

I agree with the writer, Paula Simons, that the law has become a relic in this age of social media, live blogging and expectations of instant news results. As she points out, Stephen Harper himself spoke out against it a decade ago when, as president of the National Citizens Coalition, he came to the defence of a blogger who was fined under the law.

“These jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control,” he said. “The government’s law is outdated and just plain wrong.”

Now that he’s prime minister, he can change this law. Let’s get busy, Mr. Harper!