October 29, 2008

Post-election roundup by David Tymoshchuk, RY Manitoba Bureau

Post-election roundup by David Tymoshchuk, RY Manitoba Bureau

TORONTO - Voters in Eglinton-Lawrence went to the polling station shown on their election cards, a church that wasn't there. It had been torn down.    Earlier in October, Liberal supporters who had lawn signs noticed that their cars had the brake lines cut or/and an "L" keyed on a car door or other body panel. Some had their homes spray painted with anti-Liberal slogans. Many supporters were intimidated by the vandalism, which was akin to fascist tactics. Some asked that the signs be removed after hearing the news.

SUDBURY - J. David Popescu, an independent candidate, stated at an election debate at a high school in front of students that "homosexuals should be executed". Students booed and called for him to be pre-empted but he was allowed to continue on other topics. On Oct. 2 he said during a radio broadcast that Egale Canada's director Helen Kennedy should be executed. He is under investigation for hate crimes. Popescu has discredited himself before. He has stated music stores should be closed because they "promote satanic music" and that dragon boats invoke the devil. He was living off his mother's pension and was found guilty in 2003 of assaulting her.

MONTREAL - On Sept. 28 and 29, Westmount Public Security removed election posters of Communist Party of Canada candidate Bill Sloan from public poles in the riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie. The recently posted signs, duly authorized by the registered agent of the Communist Party, put forward his positions on Canadian policy concerning Afghanistan and Israel. In one case, "CANADA OUT OF AFGHANISTAN" and the other, "END CANADIAN SUPPORT TO APARTHEID ISRAEL". The signs were removed by the Westmount administration without giving either the candidate or the Party notice. Sloan learned of the City's actions when the Westmount Independent published a story on the issue, mentioning that "Offensive" posters had been taken down by Westmount public security.

     "I called their public security on October 9 and spoke to the Director, Mr. Richard Blondin," says Sloan. "He confirmed that his service had indeed removed my posters on September 28 and 29, but did not tell me what they had done with them. He declined to explain for what reasons or under what authority they had acted. The next day I read a press release from Marc Garneau, Liberal candidate in the riding where he joins the Canadian Jewish Congress in denouncing the election campaign of the Communist Party of Canada, and alleges that my signs `may be' illegal because of their content!... The electoral laws allow an advertising message that promotes or opposes a registered party or the election of a candidate, including one that takes a position on an issue with which a registered party or candidate is associated. They were so sure of themselves that they filed a report with the Montreal Police (SPVM), leaving them a pair of each of the `offending' posters. As though I were the criminal.

     "This is a flagrant violation of freedom of expression, which the Supreme Court reminds us is at its most precious during an election campaign. These shameful acts, committed not by anonymous vandals, but by a public authority, must be punished and remedied in a public fashion."

SURREY - RCMP physically blocked and removed reporters from interviewing Prime Minister Steven Harper during the election, on the orders of a Harper aide. A similar scene with reporters and the RCMP took place in St. Eustache, Quebec. In addition, the Conservative Party gave gag orders to its candidates, most of whom did not show up at all-candidate meetings or talk to media for the duration of the election.

WINNIPEG - The city had more campaigning by activists than by politicians as sit-ins were a regular event. At 10 am on Sept. 20, anti-war activists staged a sit-in at the campaign office of Conservative candidate Trevor Kennard to make known that Canadians were not pleased with his party's policy towards war resisters. The office occupation was in opposition to the planned deportation of Jeremy Hinzman and his family to face persecution in the U.S. Students from the University of Manitoba had a "study-in" simultaneously at three campaign offices in Winnipeg to protest the lack of funding towards students, Aboriginal students especially.

     On Oct. 14, the electoral engineering done by a Harper- overhauled Elections Canada made itself known as many Aboriginals, youth, students, homeless and workers who frequently move were turned away at polling stations across Winnipeg's North and West Ends.

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