Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tuesday Afternoon Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- In the latest on Robocon, John Ivison rightly notes that the scandal figures to give many Canadians a long-overdue first look at the Cons' computerized voter information. Meanwhile, Glen McGregor and Stephen Maher note that the Cons' spending in last year's election campaign is coming under scrutiny - and at least one newly-elected MP is running into serious trouble while others wonder whether they'll keep their jobs. Kady notes that at least one party ignored Elections Canada's admonition to use lists of updated polls for internal purposes only. Gloria Galloway is only one of many to point out the stunning double standard as the Cons demand the release of Lib calling information while obstinately refusing to provide anything of the sort themselves. Dr. Dawg documents the Cons' distraction tactics, while Alison shreds a few of the more laughable excuses.

- Meanwhile, Lawrence Martin earns a bullet point of his own for pairing a chronicle of Stephen Harper's seething hatred for Elections Canada with this contrast between Harper's one-time words and his government's actions:
Mr. Harper’s words have a rather peculiar ring today. Elections Canada bureaucrats went after Mr. Bryan, he said in his letter, “to establish the precedent of government control of the Internet. … The implications are very ominous, very scary.” And yet, his own government recently tried to introduce Internet surveillance legislation, only to be thwarted by a public backlash.

“Iron-fisted bully tactics have no place in a free and democratic society,” Mr. Harper wrote, in reference to Mr. Kingsley. “Information is power. The less control the government has over the flow of information, the less control it can exert over its citizens. … We cannot allow the government to dictate what information we can and cannot publish.”

Ironically, on information flows, the Harper government is widely viewed as one of Canada’s most restrictive. Just last week, the journal Nature accused the government of muzzling the science community.

The battles against gag laws by Mr. Harper, who recently lifted the law on the broadcasting of election results, cost the Citizens Coalition more than $1-million in legal fees. In respect to the “in and out” scheme, the RCMP raided Conservative offices in 2008, and the party sued Elections Canada. Ultimately, the party pleaded guilty to overspending during the 2006 campaign.

In his 2001 letter, Mr. Harper accused Elections Canada of being “out of control.” The question today, as the robo-call scandal continues, is whether it’s his own party members who are out of control.
- But far be it from the Cons to let a good scandal go to waste - as they've finally conceded defeat on Conadscam while the media is focused elsewhere.

- Finally, as the federal budget approaches, Jim Flaherty wants to make sure that any budget slashing doesn't affect free toys for rich people. And the Cons are pouring millions of dollars into trying to attack public servants in the name of cost efficiency.

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