Monday, June 2, 1997
(available week prior)
Hamburgers and the Elections Act
Elections Canada is not fooling around.
The law says it is illegal
to broadcast, publish, or disseminate
the results of an opinion survey
within three days before the polls close.
That used to apply only to surveys by scientific pollsters
like Angus Reid and Environics.
But now, the Elections Act is being more broadly interpreted
to include informal burger polls by reastaurants
like Hungry Jack's in Dartmouth, N.S.
The news was enough to give owner Jack Helmkay indigestion.
"I can't see how they can classify it s scientific", Helmkay said.
"We're just having a bit of fun."
Elections Canada spokesman John Enright says the federal agency
is determined to investigate written complaints,
although "we won't have people on every street corner".
But it has also cast its gaze towards the Internet.
For example, operators of the Yahoo! Canada Web site
-- which provides electronic links
to The Globe and Mail News Wire and Maclean's --
have been told they must ensure that no one can access
even previously published articles containing poll results.
Says Warren Caragata, Yahoo! Canada's executive producer:
"Canadians don't have any right to see their history
during the blackout period."
Copyright © 1997 by Maclean's Magazine.
All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission.