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Bill C-76 weakened law making election more like 2016 U.S. Presidential election – full of false online election posts and ads, and false claims

Liberals ignored experts, House Committee, Chief Electoral Officer, Commissioner of Canada Elections, and tens of thousands of Canadians, who all called for changes to stop false claims

New bill needed as soon as possible to make these key changes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 28, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch highlighted key problems with the changes made by the Trudeau Liberals’ Bill C-76, and the federal government’s initiatives announced in January and last May, that ignored the call by all experts, a House Committee, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), the Commissioner of Canada Elections, and tens of thousands of Canadians, for more effective changes to the Canada Elections Act to actually stop fake online election posts and ads, false claims about candidates, and big money interest group ad campaigns, and to protect voters’ privacy.

Incredibly, Bill C-76 actually gutted the rule in the Act prohibiting on false claims about candidates, even though the CEO and Commissioner warned that the Bill would have that bad effect. The Bill also failed to strengthen the general rule in the law that prohibits false claims. The rule needs to be strengthened because the Commissioner negligently refuses to enforce it in some cases (For details of one of those cases, click here and click here).

Bill C-76 also increased the advertising spending limit for wealthy, big money third party interest groups by 250% (from about $200,000 to $511,700) — a really bad move in the wrong direction given social media advertising costs are only 10-20% of what traditional TV, radio and print media ads cost. In other words, the new limit multiplies the ad spending power of wealthy interests by 12-25 times, giving them much greater power to dominate election debates than they had in elections from 2006 to 2015.

Almost 90,000 Canadians have supported Democracy Watch’s campaign to stop big money in Canadian politics, and more than 17,000 Canadians have either signed Democracy Watch’s online petition on Change.org or its letter-writing campaign calling for changes to stop secret, false online election ads or signed its online petition calling for political parties to be covered by the federal privacy law, and other key privacy protection changes.

“Bill C-76 severely weakened the rule that prohibits false claims about candidates, more than doubled the spending limit for wealthy interest groups, and didn’t do enough to stop false, online election ads, false election promises or big money donations,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “As a result, the fall 2019 federal election was much like the 2016 U.S. presidential election – dishonest, unfair and driven by false claims of wealthy interest groups, party leaders and parties.”

“If the Trudeau Liberals actually want to ensure that the next election is fair and democratic, they should introduce a short, simple bill as soon as possible to reverse the bad, weak changes made by Bill C-76 and to strengthen other key rules,” said Conacher. “The bill should prohibit all false claims and false promises, lower donation limits, reverse the increase in interest group ad spending, require all media and social media companies to disclose to the Commissioner of Canada Elections all election-related ads, empower the Commissioner to delete any false post or ad from social media, and extend the privacy law to political parties with penalties high enough to actually discourage violations by social media companies that have tens of billions in annual profits.”

“All parties should support the introduction and quick passage of this bill as soon as possible to ensure the next election is fair and democratic, and to ensure the privacy of Canadians is protected,” said Conacher.

Instead of protecting the integrity of Canada’s elections, the Trudeau Liberals’ actions protected their friends at social media companies, and their own data mining of voters’ private information.

As CTV detailed in March 2017, the Liberal Party uses Data Sciences Inc., run by Prime Minister Trudeau’s friend Tom Pitfield, for its data management of the private, personal information it gathered on Canadian voters. And as CTV also detailed in that article, and also Maclean’s magazine detailed in October 2017, Mr. Pitfield also heads up the think tank Canada 2020, which has Facebook and Google as partners (see logos at bottom of page) and executives from Facebook Canada and Google Canada as advisers.

As the Ottawa Citizen detailed in May 2018, Liberal Party-connected lobbyists and executives work for Facebook, Google, Microsoft, while their friends and/or former colleagues worked for Trudeau Cabinet ministers.

See Backgrounder for details about the key changes needed to:

  1. Stop secret, false, online election ads;
  2. Require honesty during pre-election and election periods;
  3. Stop wealthy interests from dominating pre-election and election periods, and;
  4. Protect the privacy of voters’ and all Canadians.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Honesty in Politics Campaign, Money in Politics Campaign, Stop Fake Online Election Ads Campaign, and Democratic Voting Systems Campaign