Justin Trudeau’s terrible new election rules will limit citizen activism

Justin Trudeau’s terrible new election rules will limit citizen activism, by J.J. McCullough. An intensifying trend in the West.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government recently passed more than 200 pages of dramatic changes to the way Canadian elections work. Among other things, the new rules will further restrain the degree that Canadians can exercise their constitutional rights to free political speech and activism.

Such regulations were passed with the standard progressive smugness that heavily regulating political speech and activity in the name of fairness and equality is unambiguously virtuous.

The new legislation seeks to ensure that “political actors” operate on a “fair and level playing field,” and will impose “reasonable limits” on their budgets.

Translated to English, this means government has devised new ways to punish politically motivated groups of Canadians, be they environmentalists, social conservatives, business or labor leaders, minority rights’ activists or anything in between, who engage in activities such as advertising or “canvassing door-to-door, making telephone calls to electors and organizing rallies” without first conforming to Ottawa’s rules.

Thanks to these amendments and others, the Canada Elections Act is now impossibly long and frighteningly intimidating. Any Canadian who plans to exert any significant expense or effort in persuading his or her fellow citizens to vote one way or another in next year’s election should immediately retain a team of lawyers and accountants, as there is simply no other way to navigate the dense brush of legal weeds that now govern election-adjacent democratic participation in Canada. Rule-breakers can expect thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time. …

Without any firmer foundation than speculative, self-interested theories about what hurts their ability to get elected, Canada’s political class has a vested interest in minimizing the political activism of others. Lawmakers, after all, are allowed to endlessly speechify and self-promote in their capacity as pieces of the government, and they jealously guard that perk. “Third parties” must therefore be portrayed as illegitimate competitors in the way unions and corporations already have. Aspersions must be cast on these outsiders, with their exercise of democratic rights portrayed as dangerous and subversive. The politician’s goal is to monopolize all conversation about policies and priorities, thereby making his or her own leadership seem indispensable. …

The other beneficiary of all this is the media. Canadian election law does not consider journalists as third parties, even though they’re employees of large corporations who spend a great deal of money influencing what voters think about politics. Perhaps this is because Ottawa has a different plan for them. The Trudeau government recently unveiled $595 million in fresh funding to subsidize Canadian news outlets, and a corresponding government committee to identify instances of journalism worthy of subsidization.

It’s our job to make policy, say the globalists and politicians, and we’ll keep it that way. Keep ordinary people out of law-making, say the new laws. Good for politicians, journalists, and the politically correct, but bad for everyone else. Free speech is so old-fashioned.