TORONTO, Ontario, CANADA, December 15, 2017
Ontario’s None of The Above Direct Democracy Party (“NOTA Party”) Leader Greg Vezina announced several smaller and new parties are launching a Charter Challenge against more than a dozen of Ontario’s rigged election laws for which they seeking a hearing on an urgent basis in January 2018.
The NOTA Party leader made personal presentations before the Ontario legislature in 2016 for which Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer was in attendance and in 2017 pointing out serious flaws in and needed changes to Ontario’s election laws, the majority of which were ignored. The NOTA Party nominated eight candidates in the 2014 election, have already nominated more than 30 on the way to 124 (one in each riding) for the 2018 election.
Notwithstanding multiple rulings that political party activities are reviewable by Courts, and with corporate contributions of anything that promotes or opposes a candidate or party now being illegal, pollsters, news and new media companies continue to consciously conspire with the major parties to keep all others out of leaders’ debates, all candidates debates and from qualifying for public subsidies.
Third parties such as industry or labour controlled special interest groups and foundations are sponsoring debates and campaign events covered by the mainstream media that unfairly exclude most candidates and can even be used to circumvent new spending limits in the six months before and during campaigns.
News and social media, search engines and news aggregators are reporting biased polls proven incorrect by extensive research by CBC Poll Analyst and founder of ThreeHundredEight.com Éric Grenier which diminish the support of smaller parties by 400% or more. This reverse bandwagon effect is extremely detrimental.
The Ontario Liberals, NDP and PC Party have worked together to pass legislation to basically prevent all others except themselves and the Green Party from obtaining public subsidies or from being elected at all, by working with the news media, social media and third parties such as foundations and special interest groups to suppress new parties and independent candidates in debates on both public and private property, in political polls and in most campaign news coverage.
According to several election studies in Canada and the US including PEW Research, and in Canada’s Lortie Royal Commission on Campaign Finance, the $millions worth of free publicity provided to the major parties by media is many times greater than the maximum campaign spending limits for all political parties and candidates combined.
Allen Small, Leader of the Ontario Libertarian Party says, “We strongly support the idea of ‘un-rigging’ of our election laws and we are looking at participating in this Charter Challenge.” The Libertarian’s nominated candidates in 74 of the 107 ridings in 2014 and have already nominated well over 100 on the way to 124 for 2018 .
Dan King, a spokesperson for the Party for People with Special Needs (Ontario) says “The almost total ban against campaigning in seniors, student, and special needs residences prevents us from even connecting with our base.”
Yuri Duboisky, Leader of the Ontario Moderate Party says, “Voters in Ontario have fewer rights to see or hear the policies of smaller and independent candidates than in most countries in the world today. The UK and all four countries in it, Germany, Japan, the Isle of Man and even Iran allow smaller party leaders and candidate on debates, but not here.”
Bahman Yazdanfar, Leader of the Canadians Choice Party (Ontario), says, “What kind of a Democracy is it where elections are being rigged by the media, pollsters and major parties to keep voters from even knowing that there are 21 registered parties running candidates during elections until they enter the voting booth?”
Jason Tysick, Leader of the newly registered Alliance Party of Ontario says, “We are big believers in the ‘3Rs of Direct Democracy: Referendum, Recall and Responsible government’ and we support any efforts to bring real democracy to elections in Ontario and Canada.”
John Wilson, Strategist & Campaign Chair, of the Northern Ontario Party said, “The Northern Ontario Party is a supporter of any movement or action that will improve/enforce TRUE democracy into our already flawed system. As a registered party whose constitution carries a ‘NO PARTY WHIP’ guarantee, it is without question that we would support any action, legal or otherwise, that contributes to a true & open democracy.”
According to NOTA Party leader Greg Vezina, “Our elections are run like a horse race where the win, place and show horses are in the winner’s circle celebrating before the gates for the other horses even open, democracy eh?”
The Green Party of Ontario has not replied to requests to participate in these proceedings, although the Greens did previously work with Vezina and several smaller parties in the 1990s to bring legal challenges against the former Ontario Commission on Elections Finances, which was totally disbanded by then Premier Mike Harris in 1998.
There are at least 13 election laws or regulations that are being challenged:
– Declining ballots causing loss of secret ballot
– Minimum vote levels for campaign subsidies
– Minimum subsidy for compliance costs similar to auditors’ fees
– All leaders and candidates must be accommodated in debates even if it requires more than one
– Polls should include all relevant parties and candidates to prevent proven inaccuracy
– “Bona Fide” news exemption needs clarifications to prevent $multi-million illegal campaign contributions
– exclusion of leaders, candidates and party officials from fundraisers
– 2 new Northern ridings population too small, outside +/- 25% formula set by Supreme Court
– End party leader control and manipulation of nominations and return it to local party members and supporters
– Restrictions on signs during new six month period of limits on advertising before election
– Chief Electoral Officer use of Extraordinary Powers and Consent for Prosecutions unfair
– Human Rights Code excludes political beliefs
– Prohibitions against canvassing in seniors buildings and student residences
1. The “decline the ballot” law forces voters to give up their most fundamental “right to a secret ballot”. It should either be on the ballot itself or voters should be able to write that on it is the case in Alberta does, because in Ontario you have to publicly tell the Returning Officer you “decline the ballot” to do it.
2. The 2-5% minimum vote requirement for party and constituency association subsidies and the 10% minimum for candidate campaign subsidies are unfair unless all parties, leaders and candidates get a fair opportunity to qualify for them, which the rules do not provide. We suggest 1/3 is split amongst all parties, 1/3 based on the number of candidate that ran in the election and 1/3 based upon the number of constituency associations (“CAs”) registered to support candidates (see Broadcast Arbitrator free and paid time allocations).
3. The burden of complying with increasingly complicated campaign finance and other requirements costs a lot of money today, especially with ‘real time’ reporting and when using complicated electronic accounting systems for reporting contributions and expenses. There are subsidies for auditors’ fees and there should be an annual minimum party subsidy based on the number of ridings candidates that ran in elections and registered CAs, as was the case until recently in Manitoba.
4. All candidates’ or Leaders’ debates cannot totally exclude smaller parties and independent candidates, especially now the US Federal Courts have ordered the Federal Election Commission to rewrite the rules to open their presidential debates to include smaller parties running in half or more districts needed to win the Presidency at the Electoral College and Canada’s Supreme Court (“SCoC”) has ruled parties and candidates cannot be denied access to public property, which can be applied to the public airwaves. If one debate or event cannot accommodate all qualified candidates or leaders, then multiple events of similar stature must be held, as is done during US Presidential Primary Nominations where every candidate must be given EQUAL TIME, which was accomplished in the most recent 2016 US Republican Primary where they put the 19 official candidates on two debates.
5. The accuracy of political polls is very questionable but the impact of them is not, so laws should require every candidate or party on the ballot in the area, riding or ridings where the poll is taken and will be broadcast be listed in the poll. It is not acceptable to name the big three, even add the Green and then lump the rest as others because most people do not know there are others, how many, or their party or candidates names when polled and they are entitled to that information under election and broadcasting laws for the reports to be “bona fide” news, otherwise with corporate contributions being illegal it becomes a contribution of a good or service that promotes or opposes one or more candidates by exclusion of any. As mentioned above extensive research of multiple federal and provincial elections by CBC Poll Analyst Éric Grenier proved that polls that exclude smaller parties diminish their support by 400% or more, enough in many cases that they would otherwise qualify for campaign subsidies, and the commercial value of the publicity generated by them for some parties and not others is greater than the campaign spending limits.
6. We want the Court to clarify the ‘bona fide’ news exemption for corporate contributions by all media of news and public affairs programs or reporting that is supposed to require giving ‘equitable time’ to all rival parties and candidates to actually mean something. There must be a hard and fast rule and/or formula otherwise the abuses will get worse by mainstream and new media and Facebook, Google, Twitter and others being able to give $millions of dollars worth of free publicity to some but not others, which under our laws against corporate contributions, must be illegal.
7. The total exclusion of party leaders and candidates from all fundraising events except annual and policy meetings is clearly unconstitutional. The big parties including the Ontario Greens use Federal and Provincial Leaders, MPs or MPPs-MLAs to circumvent the rules and gain unfair advantage. There should be at least a $100 maximum contribution allowed at any fundraiser (out of the $1,200 annual party and CA limit and additional $1,200 candidate campaign limit).
8. The two new Northern Ontario ridings have less than +/- 25% formula the SCoC set as the maximum variable. These new ridings have as few as 1/4 of the population other ridings have.
9. Leader/Party veto-control of nominations is unconstitutional unless for good cause spelled out clearly in rules etc. which according to two recent decisions that say parties are bound by their constitutions which have to be fair and can be appealed to a court. We want the right of leaders to sign or refuse to sign nomination papers or to appoint candidates severely restricted to give local party members and supporters control of local candidate nominations.
10. Campaign advertizing in the six months before an election not allowing the use of campaign signs is unfair. With the SCoC expanding the previous ruling candidates and parties are entitle to use public property to include any location where public funds have been used to support community or private property at almost any time there cannot be suck absolute restrictions. Further, Third Party Spending limits in the six months before an election are 1/5 those for parties and a very small fraction of campaign spending limits and likely too restrictive to be constitutional. We want a level playing field for third party spending as limits can be circumvented by holding debates and other partisan events.
11. The Chief Electoral Officer (“CEO”) of Ontario’s consent is required for prosecutions under the Ontario Elections Laws, but not under Ontario’s Municipal Elections Laws which give the right and power to any citizen to go before a Judge and swear an information for the laying of a charge “at any time”. He has found cases of irregularities but chosen to enter into consent agreements to prevent prosecutions entirely which cannot be appealed under Ontario elections law. Further the CEO has extraordinary powers to deal with emergency matters or those not dealt with in law and he refuses to use them in the face of dozens of clear examples of need based on complaints or clear irregularities for decades, some of which he has noted in his reports to the legislature. The CEO has advised the political parties at annual meetings with Elections Ontario that he agrees there should not be a minimum limit and the subsidies should not benefit the winners most, however he refuses to use powers he has under the law specifically to remedy errors or mistakes like this when the legislature has failed to do so. He did not make similar requests of the legislature to fix the errors or unfairness towards the smaller parties and when the legislature did not follow up with dealing with them in subsequent legislation the he simply ignored the issues regardless of the fact that these things clearly impact the integrity and validity of our elections. Since he has refused to use his powers to properly investigate or deal fairly with dozens of complaints of irregularities we will ask the Court to them taken away and have them given back to the Courts, as is the case with other provincial and criminal laws in Canada.
12. The recent OHRT ruling that Ontario Human Rights Law does not cover ‘Political beliefs’ in spite of mandatory requirements under United Nations ICCPR Canada ratified (as they are in PEI and Federal HRC), and two Ontario Court rulings on point that have not determined this point in cases of a person involved in a registered political party with clear social or economic policies that differentiate them from other parties, according to both rulings “such as the Communist party.” We will ask the Court to “read in” these rights to the law as has been done with others excluded from provincial and federal human rights codes.
13. Section 89.1 of the Elections Act (Ontario) contains a total blanket exemption from and allowance for restricting candidate or their canvassers during an election to multi-residence buildings of several types including university or college residences and buildings mainly occupied by residents who require assistance in living. And yet the Residential Tenancies Act (Ontario) contains Section 28, which says under the title of Entry by canvasser, “No landlord shall restrict reasonable access to a residential complex by candidates for election to any office at the federal, provincial or municipal level, or their authorized representatives, if they are seeking access for the purpose of canvassing or distributing election material. 2006, c. 17, s. 28.” and under Section 233, “A person is guilty of an offence if the person knowingly, (c) restricts reasonable access to the residential complex by political candidates or their authorized representatives in contravention of section 28.” As noted above, this law prevents some parties and candidates from reasonable access to communicate with these voters, many of who are the natural constituency of smaller parties and the issues they campaign on are ignored by the major parties and media.
For further information contact:
The NOTA Party will be accepting political contributions on the nota.ca website to help fund legal and other costs from Ontario residents who receive generous refundable tax credits for 75% on the first $399 and reduced amounts thereafter.
For further information contact:
Greg Vezina, Leader,
None of the Above Direct Democracy Party (Ontario)
Aucune de ces Réponses Démocratie Directe Parti
Phone: (905) 501-0010 or (905) 501-8543