Conservatives admit they’re behind false byelection phone calls in Liberal riding
OTTAWA — The Conservatives have confirmed they are behind a rash of phone calls to Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Montreal-riding over the past couple of weeks in which constituents allegedly were told of Cotler’s resignation and a pending byelection.
This is completely indefensible, only the Conservatives are doing their best to defend it:
“Every political party in the House identifies its voters in one way or another,” Conservative MP John Williamson said. “This is an important part of the political process.”
Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan added that rumours of Cotler’s pending resignation have been circulating since the Liberal was first elected in 1999. As a result, he said, saying there were rumours of a byelection was a perfectly legitimate thing to tell constituents.
Cotler has asked House Speaker Andrew Scheer to investigate the matter and determine whether his privileges as a member of Parliament have been breached by the calls.
Van Loan said if such a finding is made, it would have widespread ramifications for freedom of speech.
“To say that one cannot speculate on his future,” he said, “that that form of freedom of speech should forever be suppressed, is to me an overreach that is far too great.”
This is, of course, complete hogwash (and if I had Pat Martin's mouth, I'd use harsher language).
This is NOT an important part of the political process. Just because something is rumoured, it doesn't mean you can broadcast it to voters. I've heard my fair share of rumours about some of Mr. Williamson's colleagues, but never in a phone call from a rival party. I'd also add that if Cotler's "imminent" departure has been rumoured for 12 years, that's a pretty good sign it's unfounded.
The "free speech" argument is even more absurd. Would Van Loan be alright with Karl Rove's 2000 primary phone calls which asked South Carolina voters if they would be more or less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he'd fathered an illegitimate black child? Is that freedom of speech?
There are dozens of articles published every year asking why voter turnout rates are declining and why young people are turned off politics. After hearing stories like this, I think the better question to ask is why anyone actually takes the time to care in the first place.