The Convergence
Monday, May 26, 1997

Breaking the Election Canada's polling ban

Political activist to publish results on a U.S. Web server

by Theresa Ebden, [email protected]

(00:01)

Polling information will be available to Canadians through election day, despite Election Canada rules. Greg Vezina and Online Direct of Toronto announced Saturday they will publish election polls through a Web server in Florida.

It is illegal, under Election Canada rules, to release any polling information as of this Friday. This includes the publication of any analysis of polls. The voting results of the June 2 election cannot be released until all the polls have closed.

By hosting the information in the United States, Vezina is hoping to circumvent this election law. There is no Election Canada precedent for controlling polling information over the Net, since the rules were developed to regulate the traditional media.

Vezina, and John Deverell co-authored the 1993 book, Democracy, Eh? and are founding members of the political action group, Democracy League. The group wants the reform of election campaign rules, and supports referendum-based direct democracy. Democracy League’s Web page states that these goals can be accomplished through "the dual use of supplication and high-pressure tactics."


(UPDATE, 18:05)

So, who's running this Internet gig, anyhow?

That's the question that Canadian democracy activist Greg Vezina presented to the Canadian government. Last Saturday, Vezina and Toronto's Online Direct announced they will be posting Canadian federal election poll results on a Florida Web site.

Elections Canada rules forbid the release of any polling information in the days before the June 2 election.

"Just because Elections Canada says it applies to the Internet, doesn't make it so", he said. "So what does (the broadcast and publication clause) mean? That the Internet is included? I don't think it is and any lawyer would agree that it would be void for vagueness", Vezina said.

Vezina, a founding member of the political activist group, Democracy League, said publishing the polling information is "not in violation of the law". "Canadian poll results can be published in Florida, in China, in Bangkok and I will be obeying the rules! And the law is wrong anyways", he said.

David Jones, the president of the Electronic Frontier Canada, disagrees with Vezina's methods. "He will win this cause not by labeling people as fascists, but by doing homework and arguing the law in court", said Jones.

He said online operations in Florida are illegal, "if they are moving their content out of the country after publishing here" because they are dodging a law. While Jones may not agree with the procedure taken by Vezina, he does agree with the battle being fought.

"It's our right to have and express these views", he said. Jones believes that if the government was stopping people from being informed, then "it's a bad law and we have to get rid of it."

Elections Canada could not be reached for comment.


Relevant links: Democracy League and Elections Canada


Copyright © 1997 by Theresa Ebden. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.