Grease on the slippery slope

In one of the more curious bits of news to cross this desk lately, Elections Canada is warning charitable groups to steer clear of anything resembling partisan politics.

In order to speak (advertise) in partisan tones, any group spending more than $500 must register as a third-party advertiser and follow that protocol. The rules quickly become complex, which seems standard operating practice for bureaucrats and legislators to make rules far harder to comprehend and more complex than need be.

The Environmental Defence was interviewed on CBC radio recently to express concerns that these new rules would make it very difficult for their organization to educate the voting public on which candidates had the best strategies for climate change. The fly in the ointment was stating climate change as a legitimate issue when Maxime Bernier of the People’s Party of Canada, for example, refutes climate change as a fact. To him, it is a partisan issue and not fact-based. On that basis charities or non-governmental organizations would be unable to engage in the discussion for fear of putting at risk their charters because they are not allowed to engage in partisan activities. Although it took a few reads of the article to understand it, what was immediately clear is that free speech and conversations are being unwisely muted.

Perhaps it is folly to believe people should have the opportunity to speak and talk about whatever is on their mind. It is something we have written about many times over the years and the necessity for different sides of issues to be heard. For a bureaucrat, or a body like Elections Canada to limit opportunities for discussion is disconcerting.

An occasional writer to this paper sent greetings a while ago and suggested this writer’s Rogerian approach to problem solving was admirable in a sense but not necessarily practical. In a nutshell, this approach relies on finding areas of common ground and then deciding on a solution to the problem.

It goes without saying that methodology is out the window, when Elections Canada can decide what qualifies as fact or not and whether an issue is truly an issue or simply a partisan machination for election purposes. People would find it difficult to talk on most subjects, since partisan concepts factor into most people’s world views.

No one would expect a politician to debate in non-partisan terms and if the qualifier is whether other parties choose to accept facts or not.  It is cause for voices to go silent on many issues.

Consider these talking points:.. Vaccines are in the public interest. Subsidies and grants help the economy. Diversity and multiculturalism make Canada great.

This ruling is grease for the slippery slope our democracy slides on.