Ahead of Canada's federal election, a new wrench has just been thrown into the gears. Elections Canada said climate change can't be discussed by groups in advertisements before the election as it would be deemed partisan political speech. This is due to the fact that fringe candidate Maxime Bernier said he doesn't believe in climate change and made it part of his platform.
Elections Canada has a rule that any organization that creates ads about a political issue costing more than $500 must register as a third party. For charitable organizations, that could mean losing tax-exempt status with Revenue Canada.
Again, this decision to silence environmental groups who advocate for reform to fight climate change was made because a candidate in the federal election says things like this:
Libs can only sell their carbon tax if they lie. Lie #1: You’ll get back more money. Lie #2: It’s a price on “p… https://t.co/oEzEwl8DsK— Maxime Bernier (@Maxime Bernier)1540391560.0
So now, any group that advertises about climate change before the election can be argued to be advocating against Bernier and therefore making a political statement.
Elections Canada has already started catching quite a bit of heat for this decision, despite the fact that it is based on a rule they already had in place.
@ElectionsCan_E Climate change is NOT a partisan topic. It is a scientific fact, and treating as anything less is d… https://t.co/5uUeUhbCoA— Mike Brown (@Mike Brown)1566236013.0
Just as a reminder. Climate change is real. Carbon dioxide is the main driver. And yes, it is an emergency. Scienti… https://t.co/cM4OWo5VdP— Sasha Caldera (@Sasha Caldera)1566231903.0
The issue being pointed out here is that Elections Canada has conflated a worldwide issue that is based on scientific fact with a political issue. While climate change can definitely be considered a political issue, it goes beyond that.
Canadians are already taking action against this decision, with one Reddit user providing a link to others where they can register formal complaints with Elections Canada. So far, several other users claim to have sent in letters criticizing the move.
The problem people have pointed out is that once a candidate talks about something, it becomes political. That means anything can be partisan according to this rule. After all, the Rhinoceros Party, a satirical political party, once ran on the platform to nationalize Tim Hortons. Would that have meant that talking about Tim Hortons was partisan speech?
No matter what the outcome is, Canadians are not happy with this decision. Plenty of them see it as a slippery slope that could affect future elections.
Disclaimer: Cover photo used for illustrative purposes only.