Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Blackout law under attack

It looks like the National Citizens Coalition is getting some allies in its fight against the election black out law.

Sun Media is joining an application to suspend those sections of the Canada Elections Act which make it illegal to post real time elections results on a website.

Jose Leal, general manager of Canoe, says the goal of the application is “to be able to release online information relative to the (Ontario) audience without waiting for the polls to close in Vancouver.”

Right now, such a posting would be a criminal offence. Indeed, under Section 329 of the Canada Elections Act, it’s illegal to transmit any election information from a part of the country where the polls are closed to a part of the country where the polls are still open.

Besides Sun Media, the CBC, CTV, CHUM and Canadian Press also oppose Section 329.

It’s good to see the media getting involved in this case. After all, they are the ones who are being censored on election night.

The NCC has been battling the black out law ever since we offered to help Paul Bryan who launched a legal challenge to Section 329 back in 2000.

Paul believes this law is an infringement on his right to free expression and we agree.

His challenge is going before the Supreme Court of Canada sometime later this year.


Miles Lunn said...

I do support blackout laws for large news corporations, but I don't think they need to be going after bloggers such as myself. As I understand it, I could get fined if I post results on my webpage. My only concern is that if by the time the polls close here in BC it is already known who the winner is, some won't bother voting. I think the best thing is seal all ballot boxes when the polls close and only start the counting in Atlantic Canada once the polls have closed in BC. Another method is to make it illegal for voting officials and scrutineers to transmit the results at their polls. Instead once the ballots are counted, the numbers won't be released on Elections Canada site, which is where the media gets it from until the polls are closed elsewhere.

Dale said...

Gerry: I just read your opinion piece from the Vancouver Sun. Do you not even try for balance? Surely you can think up at least one reason why it might not be a bad idea to limit publication of election results before the polls are closed? Why don't you even mention the arguments for the law, and try to debunk them?

If it's equality across the country you're worried about, think about it from the perspective of an easterner (to stir your sympathies, I'll suggest a nice, upstanding conservative guy in Nova Scotia). He doesn't know how I'll vote when he casts his ballot, so why should I have that information in hand when I make my decision in Vancouver?

Clinton P. Desveaux said...

This blackout law is nothing more but another form of the gag law. An assault on freedom of speech!