Musings —12.01.2011 09:16 AM—
OTTAWA — The Conservatives have confirmed they are behind a rash of phone calls to Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Montreal-riding over the past couple of weeks in which constituents allegedly were told of Cotler’s resignation and a pending byelection.
But while the party says it was not breaking any rules, political scientists feel the tactic crosses a line and will harm not only voters’ trust in the system, but perhaps even the Conservatives themselves.
The “political scientists” – who, in my experience, are neither – are wrong. It’s much more than “crossing a line.” This is a corrupt practice and against the law. In fact, if electors were provided with false information, inside or outside of the writ, laws were indeed broken. That’s particularly true if any aspect of the Conservatives’ conspiracy took place in or near Ontario.
96.2 (1) A person who, inside or outside Ontario, prevents another person from voting or impedes or otherwise interferes with the person’s exercise of the vote is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000.
(2) A person who, inside or outside Ontario, does anything for the purpose of aiding another person to commit the offence described in subsection (1), abets another person in committing it, or counsels or procures another person to commit it is a party to the offence.
Quebec has similar, and tougher, laws. This morning, the Harper Conservatives have admitted they’ve broken the law. If I were Irwin Cotler – a man who I and others admire very much, and whose integrity is beyond reproach – I would get on the line to the police right now.