Michael Moore is an American filmmaker. I’ve seen Roger and Me, Bowling for Columbine and I’ve even seen Canadian Bacon. Recently, I took in the matinee of Fahrenheit 911 on opening day and thus was one of the first Canadians to see the film.
Michael Moore made a film. Whether credible, half credible, or incredibly incredible doesn’t matter to me all too much because I am Canadian; I don’t vote in the United States, I vote in Canada. I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I eat Heinz ketchup with my fries, yet I also watch Fox on occasion. Half of what I found entertaining about Fahrenheit 9/11 was the debate that I knew would ensue in the United States concerning this self-contained thesis on American policy. Bravo to Michael Moore for sparking debate and for presenting his argument. I thank him for his alternate view into his country’s politics.
So what was Michael Moore thinking when he started to talk about our politics?
“Reagan and Mulroney start to look good when you think about Bush and Harper”, Moore quipped weeks ago to, ironically, Ben Mulroney. Earlier in the day he addressed another crowd while he was promoting his movie here in Canada, “I really need you to make sure that Mr. Harper does not take over the prime ministership”.
This seems a little unfair, a little, say, none of his business. If I’m a guest in your home, I won’t tell you how to raise your kids. Did Michael Moore overstep his bounds?
Enter Kasra Nejatian, leader of the Ontario Campus Conservatives and a fellow Conservative here at Queen’s. Kasra’s site, www.chargemoore.com quotes Part 11, Division 9, section 331 of the Canada Elections Act:
No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election
period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or
vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person
a) a Canadian citizen; or
b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Did Michael Moore break the law? It’s not even debatable, it’s right there in black and white. The only counter argument that could be dug up by the news organizations that reported this story is “should we care?”
First, we must consider why this law is, in fact, on the books. “Prohibition — Inducement by non-residents” is the section title within the Act. It seems critical to prevent foreign interference into the very sacred process that is not only at the heart of, but rather bestows upon us our own national sovereignty. If a controversial American conservative came to Canada, during an election, and urged voters not to vote for the NDP there would be an equal, if not greater reaction against them.
The Liberals recently reformed the Elections Act to limit contributions by individuals to $5000 to cap influence by Canadian special interest groups so that the limit of their influence is only $5000. Granted, many Conservatives cried foul, but now inaction by the government towards monetary and indirect contributions (read: free coverage of one’s partisan opinion by media outlets) by foreign special interests (ie. Moore) would be absolutely hypocritical and would indicate the inherent bias in our political institutions. While one could argue the legitimacy of Canadian election gag laws against Canadians, there should be a national consensus against foreign interference. There cannot be a double stardard: we can’t gag the Canadians that we disagree with while applauding Americans who come to bat for our political party of choice.
Am I a Conservative? Yes. Am I a Republican? No.
Do I disagree with Moore about George W. Bush? It’s not relevant. However, I did find Moore’s connection of Bush’s dubious business connections to the Saudis very shocking. If Moore were to be accurate, he’d outline the dubious business connections that drive policy and government contracts (sponsorship) in this country. If Moore were to be fair, he’d stay out of our political process all together.