This campaign has seen a lot of things, from MPs using office budgets to advertise during the writ to past blogs of present candidates coming back to haunt parties that have not properly conducted the vetting process. But this story, as reported by the Charlottetown Guardian is perhaps the one to top.
Conservative candidate Tom DeBlois posted signs throughout his riding advising constituents to “say no” to Dion’s carbon tax. These signs weren’t the standard blue with the standard Conservative logo but they were authorized by the official agent for Tom DeBlois.
Liberals, infuriated by opposition to their leader’s carbon tax, or perhaps just simply frustrated the plan isn’t going over as well as Al Gore’s private jet on the way to another Inconvenient presentation, drove throughout the riding and tore down the signs.
If this sounds like the standard campaign dirty tricks, read on. There’s an interesting twist. Turns out that Elections Canada actually authorized the take-down of the signs. Even if the signs were illegal, why did Elections Canada outsource it’s muscle to the Liberal Party? With pre-election suggestions by the Conservatives of Elections Canada working hand-in-glove with the Liberal Party, one would presume Elections Canada would be more careful and do better to try and dispel this allegation. The problem for the Liberals, and for Elections Canada in particular, the signs are completely legal and the subjective arbiter of elections fails to secure the democratic process from abuse once again and in this particular case they enabled it.
Elections Canada has admitted it was wrong to have the signs removed. The executive director of the Liberal Party has apologized.
While we’re on the topic of signs, let’s bring up some suspicious advertising that Elections Canada should take a look into. Of course, as Conservatives we don’t expect them to give a green light to our (or rather their) enforcement division.
Consider the stark difference in how Elections Canada enforces its rules.
1) In this case here, Liberals complain about legal signs, Elections Canada authorizes the Liberals to take them down.
2) Liberal MP Anthony Rota buys an identifying himself as an MP and the ad runs during the writ period unauthorized by his official agent. Conservatives complain but Elections Canada declares the ad legal.
3) Liberals provide advertising for a corporation on their campaign plane. We still haven’t heard from Elections Canada if this was done for free or whether other considerations were involved.
4) Finally, an NDP supporter puts an NDP sign in their rented apartment window, the landlord threatens eviction and Elections Canada washes their hands of the matter.