Tuesday, May 20, 2008

BC Liberals attempt to limit free speech to keep corporate donations advantage with Bill 42

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday May 20, 2008

Bill 42 an insult to free speech


If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Make no mistake about the intent of the B.C. Liberal government's attempt to almost ban third-party advertising prior to an election - it is to preserve the corporate financial power that backs their party.

Premier Gordon Campbell wants to severely restrict advertising by any group - other than a political party - for five full months before a provincial vote.

Why? Forget Attorney-General Wally Oppal's spin that Bill 42, the Elections Amendment Act will make voting "more fair, more transparent, more democratic."

It does exactly the opposite. Here's how.

In the 2005 election year, the B.C. Liberal Party raised a massive $13 million -$10 million or 77 per cent of that from corporations.

The B.C. New Democrats raised $7.5 million and the Green Party just $185,000, with only a tiny fraction from business.

That left the Liberals with a commanding $5.5 million advantage - an enormous amount to spend on advertising, polling, phoning, staff, and more - thanks to corporate donations.

But that advantage could be eroded by third-party ads because some groups, like the B.C. Teachers' Federation, don't give money to political parties.

Instead the BCTF ran ads that strongly advocated for quality public education - pointing out Campbell's disastrous record of slashing school funding.

So now the Liberals want to squash third-party advertising that might affect their re-election - by all but banning it.

The new advertising limit would be only $3,000 per riding or a maximum $150,000 province-wide - maybe enough for a dozen 30-second prime time television ads in total.

And guess what? The BCTF spent $1.5 million - 10 times that proposed limit - in advertising last election.

But the B.C. Liberals go much further than just limiting ads that directly oppose or support a political party.

Bill 42, the Election Amendment Act - set to be passed by May 29 - actually proposes this restriction: "An advertising message that promotes or opposes, directly or indirectly, a registered political party... including an advertising message that takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated."

This part is astonishing. For example, if northern towns wanted to run ads saying a carbon tax is a bad idea - without even mentioning a party - their campaign would be restricted because the B.C. Liberals are "associated" with the tax.

But there's another possible result if this legislation is passed despite all protests.

Organizations which have never contributed to political parties and want their voices heard may have no other choice but to write a large cheque to a political party that supports free speech.

That party will not be the B.C. Liberals.


Anonymous said...

Let's hope that happens. Alternatively. one might find (smell) the money-laundering cash in this province funneled in to the Control Freaks.

Anonymous said...

This government does not believe in Democracy but is a benevolent dictatorship. Does this mean no reporting on opposition to any policies that the Lieberals dictate? Does this mean no reporting on the B.C. Rail trial? It is associated with the B.C. Lieberals.

Anonymous said...

These draconian tactics by Gordon(lushwell)campbell does offend me but
I tend to see this as a positive,just read between the lines,the bc fiberals have been claiming bcers are in favour of the gas tax,they claim everyone is rolling in dough,they claim these are the best of times!

Considering these claims as well as the dubious poll results from mustel(19 point campbell lead) ipsos reid poll(12 point lead)--I am certain these polls are skewed!

I am aware of internal polling data that has campbell sinking like a stone!

The federal liberal caucus(80%)wants stephan dion to step down over his carbon tax proposal!Obviously the federal liberals are aware of campbell plummeting appeal over gas tax.

Campbell is running scared,would a confident leader with those alledged poll numbers and this alledged booming economy be worried !
I think not--This confirms the internal polling numbers that campbell is plunging over a cliff!

One more note,I sense a shift at canwest global--Could it be that a advertising ban has riled canwest global! considering their almost the only game in town and advertising is how they make their money! The potential is millions and millions out of their bottom line!-----Just a little food for thought.

Gazetteer said...

Mr. T.--

A compare and contrast excercise with the proposed spending restrictions under the previous NDP government would be most helpful.

Regardless, it would appear that the move to disenfranchise the poor and the homeless for no good reason at all is another particularly egregious part of this ramrod*

*details at my place for those who are interested.


Anonymous said...

In their lead editorial today, The Globe and Mail has lost patience with Gordon Campbell.

It got me thinking: it took Ontario 2 terms to realize the destruction Mike Harris had caused.

Could it be that The Globe sees certain similarities in B.C.? That they finally get it?


Anonymous said...

Old George Washington would roll over in his grave at what the So called BC Liberals are up to. WE used to have a expression in the military. Keep em in the dark and throw manure( we used a different word) now and again.

ursa minor said...

If Bill 42 passes, the best thing for the NDP, the Green Party, and any other party serious about saving democracy in BC would be to boycott the 2009 election. It would be better to use those resources on protests, civil disobedience campaigns, a general strike and court challenges - if they make it past the obstructionist Supreme Court of British Columbia.

An uncotested election by the Oppostion would mark the entire process as illegitimate, making it easier to convince the public to join a popular movement to establish fair elections in BC.

North Van's Grumps said...

Who's to be the Czar of the Election Amendment Act, Ken Dobell?

What beauracy will Gordo put in place to launch lawsuits against third party entities that dare to break his new law? How much is it going to cost the public to enforce?

Anonymous said...

It will be fascinating to see both Campbell and his kissing climate change cousin, GARY DOER (not to mention ED STELMACH) in the courts defending these changes...come on down, BRAD WALL!!!

(Manitoba's Election Act changes),
(Alberta's proposed changes)

Instead of whining and complaining about how bad things are in BC, someone should be looking at the parallels running through the various pieces of legislation, and more importantly, if or when staff in the various AG ministries met (in person, via teleconference, or by e-mail) to discuss a common framework for silencing dissent in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Organizations like the BC Federation of Labour and public sector unions are considering challenging Bill 42 in court as soon as it becomes law, stressing Charter violations. Rather than do that and also comply with the spending limits in the meantime, giving Gordo the limited opposition that he wants, I suggest that they just ignore Bill 42. Starting in December right through to the election date they should advertise and oppose as they have been planning to do, thereby exercising their democratic rights. Then fight any court battles Campbell initiates, as the government would have to prosecute and attempt to find them guilty.

North Van's Grumps said...

Limiting free speech, eh, will this include the RCMP and ALC investigations regarding John Les? There are so many news stories coming out involving the BC Liberals it would appear that what their Election Amendment Act is all about is really quelling the fires that are burning in the belly of public. I've got news for the BC liberals, there isn't an antacid NO COMMENT pill that is going to stop the pain that they are dishing out with their heir apparent arrogance to be in charge for the 2010 Winter Olympic spotlight.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't Bill 42 only work if the government had no say in when an election would be held. I thought strategists decided the timing of elections, when the gov. had the best chance of winning? If the gov. has the flexibility to decide the timing of an election, such as calling an early election how can there be no 3rd party advertising prior to it?

North Van's Grumps said...

Bill could you give us a topic that specifically relates to Bill 42 if it were to become law? In other words, today you can write up any topic without having virtually any reprecussions coming down from on high via ....... BC Liberal gag law.

Are topics that you have created already, well before the five months gag order, going to be affected as well.

Do the BC Liberals have a hit list of suspect blog sites that they want to silence? Have wanted to silence!

".......takes a position on an issue with which a registered political party or candidate is associated."

Bill Tieleman said...

To answer North Van's Grumps question - I would presume that campaigning against health care privatization - whether by unions or those who support public health care - would be a topic "associated" with the BC Liberals, and therefore subject to severe spending limits.

Likewise on many other issues - effectively, if you disagree with anything the government has done in the past 8 years, you will be restricted for 5 months before election day.

It is a draconian law.

North Van's Grumps said...

Barry Forward's NorthVancouverPolitcs.com is based (registered) out of New Orleans, therefore, so he says, his blog is not subject to municipal, provincial or federal Canadian law.

Where does your blog hail from Bill?

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