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Elections Canada probes Thunder Bay call center
In this article, CBS News reports on the alleged misleading calls to voters made by call centers operated by Responsive Marketing Group (RMG) in Thunder Bay on behalf of the Conservatives. The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, declares that his party had nothing to do with these calls. However, investigations confirm that the company was hired by the Conservative Party to help it reach out to voters.
Interviews with a former RMG employee revealed that poor training by some of the company’s staff could be the reason why some voters received inaccurate information about the location of their voting stations. However, another employee of RMB stated that employees were asked to influence the voters on behalf of the Conservative Party.
In response, the Conservatives accuse the Liberals and NDP of engaging in a smear campaign against them. This is even though opposition MPs have a list of voters who were allegedly given inaccurate information on their polling stations or harassed by robocalls. Investigations are underway in Guelph where it is claimed that members of the Conservative party tried to suppress votes by giving people wrong information on their voting stations. Preventing a person from voting is illegal and Harper has strongly denied that his party is involved with these robocalls.
A Top Conservative Party Senator, Finley, states that the misleading robocalls in Guelph are isolated incidents and the matter is being blown out of proportion. The article notes that robocalling and live campaign calls are permitted campaign methods. Finley further states that the central campaign office for the Conservatives had no idea of any attempts at voter suppression. However, while Finley states that the Conservative party uses RMG, investigations reveal that nine local Conservative campaigns made use of the Racknine call center which is connected with the Guelph robocall issue.
Suspicious Robocall Complaints Hit West Nova
The article reports on the investigations currently underway concerning the suspicious election calls that were received in the riding of West Nova. This calls directed people to the wrong polling stations. Helen Opie who worked for Election Canada reports that a woman went to her local polling station agitated since she had received a call asking her to go to a station which was an hour’s drive away from her home. In the beginning, the workers at Elections Canada could not understand why the incidents of voters appearing at wrong polling stations were happening. However, they were able to infer that there was something suspicious when they heard the national stories about ridings across the country. This demonstrated that the incidents were not isolated cases since there were other cases across the country.
A former Liberal MP, Robert Thibault states that there were some problems experienced on Election Day. However, he attributed these problems to mistakes on the voter’s list since every time there are changes on the list; people have a hard time finding their polling stations. Thibault goes on to say that he has not received substantial evidence for him to declare that there indeed was rampant use of suspicious election calls in West Nova during the elections.
Even so, he said that he had gotten complaints from somebody who said that he had received repeated calls from people who claimed to be calling on behalf of the Liberal party. Thibault has faced off with the Conservative MP in the previous 3 elections with the margin between the two contenders being very close. CBC News was not able to reach the Conservative MP, Greg Kerr for comments on the issue.
Maybe it’s Time for Canada to Consider Mandatory Voting
This article argues that Canada should consider making voting mandatory because of the declining number of voters participating in the electoral process. The author begins by noting that there has been a steady decline in voter turnout at the federal level in Canada since the late 1980s. Younger Canadians who are aged between 18 and 24years are the ones who participate least in elections with less than 25% of this group voting.
The author questions whether voter incentives or other administrative mechanisms can be used to yield a higher voter turnout in Canadian elections. Measures such as internet voting, lower voter age, awareness and mobilizing campaigns, and paying citizens to incentivize them to vote.
A more controversial means of increasing voter turnout is introducing compulsory voting. The article notes that mandatory voting is in place in over 30 countries including Australia and Switzerland and high voter turnouts are experienced in these countries. In mandatory voting, fines are imposed on people who refuse to vote without providing a sufficient reason. The article notes that it can be argued that a voting system that forces citizens to vote is inherently wrong. In addition to this, mandatory voting may lead to uninformed voters determining the outcome of the process.
The article states that while mandatory voting may be an infringement on our basic freedoms, it is a minor one and its benefits far outweigh the costs. Compelling first-time voters to turn up for elections may make them more politically active and cause them to appreciate voting. The article concludes by stating that since voting is an integral part of the democratic system, lack of participation in it will lead to people getting a government they don’t deserve.
The Division of Labour in Democratic Governance
The three key functions of governance are legislative, executive, and judicial. The executive is made up of the monarch who is the Canadian Head of State, and the Governor-General who performs ceremonial and symbolic functions on the Queen’s behalf.
The Prime Minister is the head of the government and is the single most influential person in the government and he determines the members of the cabinet, election dates, the government’s legislature and budget priorities, and the structure of the Canadian government. The PM’s power is further heightened by the weakness of the political party organizations in Canada and the tradition of party discipline which makes it possible for the PM to punish members of his party who are uncooperative.
Cabinet ministers head the various ministries and they are appointed by the PM. In selecting the Cabinet, Gender and ethnicity are significant selection criteria due to affirmative action. Agenda-setting is normally done by cabinet ministers since the majority of the legislation passed by parliament is introduced by a government minister. Central Agencies are parts of the bureaucracy whose purpose is to support decision making by the cabinet.
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The decision-making process of the Cabinet is influenced by the acting PM’s style and this may range from collegial to authoritarian. Policies made are implemented by the bureaucracy. However, bureaucrats who are unelected officials have a lot of discretion in applying the laws and administering programs.
The legislature is made up of the House of Commons with 308 elected members and the Senate with 105 unelected members. The formal powers of the two houses are similar. The legislature also scrutinizes government performance therefore ensuring accountability by the government. The Canadian system centralizes policy-making power around the PM’s office. This has led to a reduction in the influence of parliament and the cabinet is also marginalized in the policy-making process.
The courts are empowered to administer justice and law enforcement. Courts tend to be conservative with their role restricted to interpreting the laws. However, courts have the power to reject laws passed in parliament which are deemed to violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The court system has also assumed functions that are supposed to belong to the elected government.
CBC News. (2012). Suspicious robocall complaints hit West Nova. CBC. Web.
Payton, L. (2012). Elections Canada probes Thunder Bay call centre. CBC. Web.
Radia, A. (2012). Is it time for mandatory voting in Canada? Yahoo!News. Web.