DEMOCRACY WATCH PRAISES SUPREME COURT
THIRD-PARTY ADVERTISING LIMITS RULING
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
OTTAWA - Democracy Watch today welcomed the ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Harper third-party election spending case.
"The Supreme Court has re-affirmed that wealth should not be used to drown out the voices of ordinary Canadians in an election," said Democracy Watch Board Member Aaron Freeman.
Democracy Watch intervened in the case both at the Supreme Court and earlier at the Alberta Court of Appeal. Their Supreme Court intervention was made jointly with the National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO), with legal representation from the Toronto firm Bakerlaw.
The legal challenge, brought forward by Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper before he re-entered politics, sought to overturn spending limits on third parties (lobby groups and individuals who advertise to influence elections). The limits, which were upheld by the Court, restrict advertising expenses to $150,000 for national campaigns, and $3,000 for campaigns focused on a single riding. The limits do not apply to common forms of communication such as press conferences, newsletters, debates, speeches letters to the editor, Internet campaigns and so on.
"In Canada, we have kept the cost of running for office affordable by having spending limits on candidates and parties running for office," said Freeman. "The Court today recognized that without limits on third parties, those running for office could circumvent their own spending limits by delivering their message through third parties, thereby undermining the integrity of our electoral system."
- 30 -
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Aaron Freeman, Board member of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Democracy Watch's Money in Politics
Democracy Watch homepage