Election Junket

Infographic: Council of CanadiansWe zoom in on a conversation between Joseph and Mary, two investigators from the Organization for Security and Economic Co-operation (OSEC) in Europe.

Mary: Did you read the e-mail on our next assignment?

Joseph: Yeah. They’re sending us to Canada. What’s up with that?

Mary: You haven’t heard about what’s going on in Canada?

Joseph: No, haven’t heard. I’m looking forward to a little junket. Maybe a stop over in New York on the way, maybe a side trip to Montreal. I’m thinking the guys in admin finally noticed the good work I’ve been doing and decided to reward me by not sending me to the Ukraine. Either that or you slipped them a couple of bills –

Mary: Don’t make jokes about taking bribes. You know I hate that.

Joseph: So what’s the deal? How come our beloved employer is investigating a Canadian election? Some Canadian saying sorry for living?

Mary: We’ve got reports. You know that guy Harper, the PM – been in charge for about 10 years – funny helmet hairdo. Bit of a pompous ass.

Joseph: Yeah, I remember him at some climate conference a while back. Didn’t they give him some kind of award as Climate Clown?

Mary: That’s the guy. Doesn’t believe in climate change. Against his religion.

Joseph: Sounds more like the American right wing, not in the progressive Canadian tradition.

Mary: Yeah. He’s adopted the Yankee playbook.

Joseph: But what’s that got to do with our assignment? OESC doesn’t investigate climate change or religious nut cases. And you and I are election fraud specialists.

Mary: That’s just it. This Harper guy and his party were charged with all kinds of election fraud. Got convicted once, too. There was the in-and-out scandal and then some lackey got convicted on the robo calls. Couple of MP’s found guilty of going over campaign spending limits.

Joseph: A Canadian bad hat and his hat trick. Does this mean we get to enjoy what passes as a diversion on Queen Street in Toronto?

Mary: This assignment is no junket, Joseph. After his party’s various convictions, he passed something called the “Fair Elections Act.”

Joseph: Could it possibly be the “Unfair Elections Act?”

Mary: Yeah, that’s actually what lots of Canadians call it.

Joseph: So how’d we get called in?

Mary: OSEC did a preliminary survey last year talked to government reps, officials from other parties, concerned citizens’ groups. They found enough evidence to show that a closer investigation was needed.

Joseph: Oh yeah? What did they find?

Mary: Don’t you ever read the memos?

Joseph: That’s where you come in, partner. I got you to read them for me.

Mary: You wish. Meanwhile, people are saying the law will prevent large numbers of voters from actually voting. And there’s suspicion that the campaign finance rules will benefit some parties and not others. Apparently, the complaints and appeals sections are dubious. Then there’s the issue of whether the law negatively affects turnout among aboriginals and other groups.

Joseph: Okay, I got it. You and me to Canada. No pricey orange juice or chauffeured limos – no junket. Business as usual.

Mary: The UN is on the case too. They did a report on human rights abuses under the Harper government. Canadian groups have been petitioning the UN to send election observers, too. I don’t know if they’ll be sent in or not.

Joseph: Let’s see. The UN, the UN… who do I know at the UN? Hey, do you remember that UN rep we met in Zimbabwe a couple of years ago? Name of Kim something? Now that was a party. Maybe he’ll be in Toronto? I can see it all now…

Mary: We’re going to Ottawa! Not Toronto, not Montreal. And it will be work – WORK! I’ll be watching you. This time you are doing your share. For Christ’s sake, do you even vote, Joseph?

Joseph: OMG, so serious.