ON NOV. 30, the National Post reported on a series of false byelection phone calls made by the Conservative party. The calls were made in the riding of Mount Royal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, falsely claiming he had resigned and that a byelection would be called.
During their calls to residents in the riding, the Conservatives asked whether they would vote for the party, claiming their scheme was simply identifying supporters.
Cotler requested the Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer, investigate the incident, but Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan was against the idea.
“To say that one cannot speculate on his future, that that form of freedom of speech should forever be suppressed—is to me an overreach that is far too great,” he said to the National Post.
I’m sorry, what? The Conservative party willingly and intentionally lied to constituents and they’re complaining about their rights being trumped? Did I miss something?
I won’t deny that freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our democracy, but so is transparency and accountability. If a member of the press makes a mistake, he or she is required to print a retraction. If a citizen makes unjustified comments about another citizen, the latter can sue for defamation of character. Why shouldn’t this apply to politicians?
The Conservatives were not “speculating about the future.” According to some of the people called, Colter’s resignation was presented as fact, not a speculation of the near future.
Although it’s nice to not be faced with inaccurate attack ads every commercial break, the Conservatives’ continued dishonesty in the House of Commons, and now individual ridings, is alarming.
By discouraging debate, avoiding the truth, and misleading citizens, the Harper government is slowly turning into an Orwellian regime. How far will we let it go until we hold the Conservatives accountable and demand they act in the public’s interest, not their own?