10 December 2012

A Modest Proposal

Today was the beginning of a trial in a case brought by voters from six federal ridings and supported by the Council of Canadians. The case is asking the Federal Court to set aside the election results because of widespread allegations of fraudulent automatic calls misinforming voters that their polling places had been moved.

There are other alleged shenanigans out there, too. The eventual winning candidate in Labrador supposedly overspent in his election expenses by many thousands of dollars. The Conservative Party settled a previous case out of court, paying a fine with respect to allegations of a large accounting scheme (the "In and Out" scandal) designed to charge certain national campaign expenses through local level campaigns, thereby allowing the national campaign to overspend.

In the current case, the court might decide to set aside the election results and call for by-elections in those ridings. The overspending case might end up in a fine being paid like the "In and Out" scandal. I'm wondering if we don't need to have some more serious penalties if we are to stem the proliferation of these infractions.

If you overspend, there should be a fine, but how about also reducing the spending limit of the candidate and the party by the same amount in that jurisdiction (riding or national level) for the next election? The advantage in one election could be compensated by the disadvantage in the next.

Or how about if you can't follow the rules, you get disqualified from running the next time around? If there's widespread abuse by a party that spreads beyond a single candidate's election race, order the party to be disbanded and its assets seized. Nothing to stop them from forming a new party, but they would have to do that from scratch.

In the spirit of how we are being governed these days, how about making some of these measures mandatory minimum sentences?

Or maybe law and order only applies to the things you're not doing yourself.

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