Sunday, October 16, 2011

Laughable Occupy turnout demonstrates who the ‘one percent’ really is

Canadians would be flabbergasted if we ever held an election with a turnout of only 0.1%.  We’d be asking ‘what’s wrong with our system?’, ‘why aren’t more people coming out?’, ‘what are we doing wrong?’ and so forth.  We’d also quickly declare that a government elected by so few people was certainly not representative of all people – that the other 99.9% did not vote for the body elected by that 0.1%.

Yet that’s exactly the turnout at these Occupy Wall Street protests.

Protesters were quick to call themselves “the 99%” and state their frustration with “the 1%.”  But after months of failed protests across the globe, we’ve seen anything but 99% of the world’s population voice their frustration.

The truth is that this fringe group was always the 1%, complaining about things the 99% of us accept as reality.  The proof is in their miniscule turnout numbers.

Take, for example, Occupy Ottawa: 2,863 people said they’d be attending yesterday’s protest in Canada’s capital, and yet roughly 500 people actually showed up.  Only one tenth of that number – 50 to 60 people – stayed the night.  That’s not even a 20% turnout in the city where Canada’s legislature sits and makes government decisions.

Or consider the same event in Toronto.  There they only managed to boast perhaps 2,500 people.  In a city with 5.5 million in the area, that equates to a 0.045% turnout rate.

Or what about Vancouver – a city of 2.3 million people, and the hub of many socially progressive ideals (such as drug safe haven Insite)?  They too only held an ineffectual protest with 2,500 people turning out – barely one tenth of one percent.

It’s just further proof that this “movement” isn’t a movement at all – it’s a resistance group, trying to slow progress.

This resistance was never “the 99%” protesting “the 1%” of society’s elites.  This resistance has always been the 1% of society’s complainers, protesting what the 99% of us accept as good.  It’s unions demanding more money.  It’s entitled students upset they have responsibility.  It’s protesters who make a career protesting the fad of the day.  It’s people wishing they had more money.

Their despicable turnout highlights a group committed to clicking “I’m attending” an event on Facebook, but clearly not committed enough to come out and protest.  Or perhaps it illustrates that these protests were never representative of the 99% grassroots in the first place – it was Astroturf all along.

These protests are already dwindling and will soon be dead.

Good riddance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The occupy movement - renamed the Occupy Resistance

A few weeks ago, the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement was met with scepticism by some and welcomed by others.  And perhaps a few weeks ago we could have referred to this as a growing movement, something that would change and expand once it gained traction.  But it hasn’t.

A movement has to, you know, move – it has to accomplish something; it has to move towards a common goal.  But this movement has peaked.  Their organization is in shambles, members are desiring different outcomes and different goals, and the police are getting tired of the protesters trespassing on public and private property (the publicly-owned Brooklyn Bridge and by squatting in the privately-owned Zucotti Park).  The only thing they’ve done is angered ordinary citizens (the 99% they supposedly represent), vandalized local businesses, and been widely discredited by anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics.

That’s why from here on in this “movement” will be referred to as a “resistance.”  Resistance is a force pushing against the grain to block progress; it’s sludge slowing down an engine that will move forward anyway.

The fact that they’re not accomplishing anything meaningful isn’t the only reason they’re not a movement.  Early in their campaign they branded themselves the “new civil rights movement” on par with the 1960’s civil rights marches.

Since they decided to make such a comparison, I decided to compare this resistance to a few real movements, and what I found is a pitiful comparison.

The graph speaks for itself.  With estimates of roughly 3000 people occupying Wall Street, they pale in comparison to the March for Equal Rights in 1978 or the protest against the Kent State shooting in 1969.

To pronounce my distinction between a movement and a resistance even further, let’s consider a few examples not listed on the graph.

In 1923 the Ku Klux Klan mustered 35,000 supporters to march to Washington to support their organization.  In 1965 the Peace in Vietnam march also turned out 35,000 protesters.  As did the March to end the Vietnam War two years later.

Americans also marched in 1970 to end apartheid in South Africa and ended up with 10,000 voices in Washington, chanting for an end to that country’s oppression.

Congratulations Wall Street resisters, you have one tenth the support as the Ku Klux Klan did in 1923.

This resistance was never a movement.  To even mention the marches of Martin Luther King or the women’s suffrage movement in the same breath as Occupy Wall Street is a disrespectful sin.  It’s always been a resistance, and it will dwindle the second it becomes more popular to complain about something else.

Follow up with Elections Ontario on Liberal Party Vote Buying

A few weeks ago I wrote about Nikki Holland, the Ontario Liberal Party's (now former) Vice President and head of Political Operations, and her "jokes" about how she flagrantly broke the law by buying homeless people cigarettes in exchange for votes.

Holland admitted that she made those remarks (see original article noted above), but insisted that she was just "joking."  And even Premier Dalton McGuinty said her comments were inappropriate.  I don't know if they were jokes or not, but the fact that Holland would make such remarks in the first place warrants an investigation by Elections Ontario.

That's why I contacted Elections Ontario, and today I received this response:

Good Morning Mr. Dickin,

I am writing on behalf of the Chief Electoral Officer to acknowledge the receipt and acceptance of your complaint dated October 1, 2011.

I believe the alleged comments to which you refer are drawn from media coverage.  We take such allegations very seriously. If you have personally witnessed such activity or have other first hand information beyond that contained in the media coverage you reference, please provide that information to us.


Melanie Martin-Griem
Manager, Chief Electoral Office

Elections Ontario  
1.800.677.8683  Fax: 416.326.6201
To which I responded:

The comments were indeed reported upon in media coverage.  While I did not personally hear Ms. Holland make those remarks, she has since acknowledged that she did make the remarks, but that they were just jokes.  Even the Premier noted that her comments were inappropriate, and Ms. Holland resigned because of the controversy surrounding her comments.

The gravity of her statement is alarming.  As an Ontario voter I'm concerned that a senior officer working for the political party currently forming the government would make such callous statements about illegally buying votes to win an election.  They call into question the legitimate election of the Liberal Party, and that is why I believe Elections Ontario should investigate.

Daniel Dickin
Stay tuned for updates.  If you're as concerned as I am about the Liberals' disregard for a legitimate elections process, contact Elections Ontario's Chief Electoral Officer and raise the same concerns as I have.

Is this Occupy movement even a movement?

This "occupy" movement (if it is one) seems to be fascinated with facts and numbers, even if they're made up and wrong.  So I decided to compare this "movement" with the civil rights movements of the 1960's, which many Occupy supporters have compared to their movement.

The graph speaks for itself.

Some other movements also include:

March for the Ku Klux Klan in 192335000
Peace in Vietnam March (1965)35000
March to end the Vietnam War (1967)35000
Cox's Army March in 193225000
Bonus Army March in 193220000
March against apartheid in South Africa (1970)10000
Women's Suffrage March in 19135000
Women's March for Peace and Freedom (1968)5000

Even the KKK had more marchers than those currently squatting at Wall St.

Occupy Wall Street's Vision Deficit

In recent weeks we have seen growth of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement – a group of individuals apparently fed up with bankers, corporations, the government, and generally anyone who has more money than them.  Their demands are, well, nobody seems to know, but they have had some high-profile celebrities and public figures come out in support of their movement – celebrities like Kanye West, who embodies the precise rich, successful American against whom they are protesting.

Brian Crowley outlined the historical shift in North America from a “system of makers to a system of takers” in Fearful Symmetry: The Fall and Rise of Canada’s Founding Values. He meticulously details the personal attitude shift from being “makers” – people who build things, prosper, and birth successful children – to “takers” – people who sit at home on welfare, finding it easier to live off he government (and thus the taxpayer) than to get a job and be a productive member of society.
The Occupy movement represents nothing new. A few people angry at the world have surmised it is easier to wander down to New York to complain than it is to get a job. Perhaps if they had spent half that time pounding the pavement handing out resumes, some might have jobs by now.
Simple math seems to escape this group, as they insist they are “the 99%” protesting “the 1%” – society’s elites. That means this movement purportedly represents a staggering 6.93 billion people worldwide, 33.66 million in Canada, and 308.8 million in the U.S.
That would be quite an impressive movement, but a few kids angry at the world cannot claim to represent of billions of people – of whom the overwhelmingly majority live by, and have not spoken out against, the status quo. On the other hand, many have made a point of stating that the Occupy movement does not represent them.
What does Occupy hope to accomplish? No one really knows, perhaps because they are attempting to govern themselves by the assumed consensus of 6.93 billion people. Do they want to overthrow the government? Do they think Wall Street will be permanently shut down?
Here’s what just a few of the protesters are representing and hoping for:
Kim Manne from Regina, Saskatchewan says she’s fighting against “corporate suppression.” I have yet to hear of any corporations in Canada “suppressing” their workers – last I checked, you are free to leave your job at any time. Ironically, her employment on Facebook is listed as “I’m a lazy free loader.” At least she’s honest.
Cynthia S. is upset her boyfriend won’t marry her with $50,000 in student debt.
Deborah V. feels she’s over-qualified for just any job, so she feels she’ll be more productive protesting than working a minimum wage job for even a little money.
This angry teenager wants the government to pay for his college education “because that’s what he wants.”[3]  If only such solid reasoning could be applied to all public policy decisions.
David Khan of Toronto, Ontario, is desperately pulling for groups to support his Occupy Toronto movement. And he has received support - from the same fanatics who destroyed property, dug up public highways, and terrified the residents of Oka, Ipperwash, Caledonia.
Another protester, Thomas Zaugg, launched an amusing theory on secret governments, banks controlling government intelligence agencies, and the same nonsense spewed by the Zeitgeist Movement – one of a constellation of conspiracy-theory groups – during an interview last week with CP24 News. He unfortunately did such an accurate job of depicting his group as a gathering of unsuccessful conspiracists that Bryan Doherty called for him to be “taken care of.”
Reports abound of local businesses being vandalized and abused by protesters wanting to send a message.
This movement defies logic and reality. First-world nations have developed the highest standard of living ever seen in history because of capitalism.
If these self-absorbed youth want to do real, substantive good, they could protest human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia; they could build wells or schools in third-world communities; they could build houses in regions ravaged by hurricanes and tsunamis.
But it’s much easier to stay in comfy North America and question why we cannot all be millionaires.
When our parents and grandparents wanted change, they voted for change; they invented and innovated; and they fought for the recognition of certain fundamental human rights. This particular movement, however, is a spoiled generation’s tantrum over simple, harsh and inescapable realities.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Teflon McGuinty fools us again, but he’s on a shorter leash

Corruption.  Hundreds of new taxes.  Public funds mismanagement.  Flat-out lying to voters.  This is the record of Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government, but Ontario voters have returned McGuinty to the Premier’s office, albeit with a minority.

When the Ontario election officially kicked off on September 7 it was a campaign that was the Progressive Conservatives’ (PC) and Tim Hudak’s to lose.  Polls were consistently showing Hudak would form a majority government (at best), or a minority government at worst.  The surveys demonstrated early-on that voters would vote for anyone but McGuinty.

What happened?

Special interests lobbied for McGuinty
The PC’s knew that the “Working Families Coalition” would be active.  The WFC is nothing more than a lobbying organization for the Liberal Party, and it was proven in court that the heads of the WFC have direct financial ties with the McGuinty government and Ontario Liberal Party.  They launched a $10 million ad campaign to demonize the Conservatives in print, television, and radio.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association also used $3 million of its members’ dues to advertise against the Conservatives and promote the Liberals.

The Tories, capped by Elections Ontario spending limits, could not compete with that kind of cash flow.

Conservative base wasn’t motivated
Several conservatives remarked throughout the election that the PC platform was not “conservative enough” or that it was a “Liberal-lite” platform, absent of the real changes needed to fix McGuinty’s problems.  Because of this, who knows how many conservatives failed to vote, or voted in protest for a fringe party?

Sun News Network’s specific refusal to endorse any party was also revealing.  They too felt the PC platform was not conservative enough – not the specific, important change Ontario needed to get back on track.

The Liberals and NDP plagiarized the PC platform
The release of the parties’ platforms is also important.  The PC’s were the first party to release their platform, and they did so early – in May 2011.  This was probably an attempt to dispel any possible accusations of the Tories having a “hidden agenda” if they waited to release their platform later in the campaign.  Hudak was thus able to say “here’s our plan for Ontario,” and gave Ontarians ample time to consider the full platform – there in print and online – months before they had to vote.

However, it also allowed the other parties to plagiarize Hudak’s platform.  The NDP released their platform a month later with some policies strikingly similar to the PC’s, as did the Liberals when they released their platform in August.

It allowed the PC’s early advantage to be clouded by both the Liberals and the NDP saying “hey, we have the same ideas as those guys.”

Voters are Irrational
I cannot state it any simpler.  Voters should have easily weighed the options of McGuinty’s government versus a change in direction.  They should have considered Ontario’s doubled debt – a tax on the next generation – Ontario’s significant deficit spending, and the hundreds of new taxes introduced in the eight years of McGuinty’s reign.

Three times now – in 2003, 2007, and 2011 – McGuinty has “promised” to not raise taxes.  In 2003 and 2007 he broke those promises, each time saying “oops, I lied” and getting away with it.  With this track record, we can only imagine what taxes he’s going to bring in next.

For whatever reason, voters felt McGuinty’s tax hikes were better than the PC’s or NDP’s promises.  That voters chose one over the other should speak volumes to the losing parties.

Mini-scandals distracted focus
Although there were no full-fledged scandals in this election, there were at least a few which could have been avoided or handled differently.  The first was the handling of McGuinty’s decision to give businesses that hired “foreign workers” (in fact new Ontarians) $10,000.  It was an issue, to be sure – why is someone living in Ontario worth $10,000 more than someone born and raised in Ontario? – but it should have not been labelled or pursued in the way it was.

Late in the campaign there were also accusations of a homophobic PC flyer being circulated in a riding.  The flyer contained quotes from a Toronto District School Board guide on eliminating homophobia in schools, with suggestions such as opening a “kissing booth” or allowing kids to cross-dress and role play – as early as grade one.  Instead of the flyer being seen as homophobic and grossly irresponsible policies of the McGuinty government, reporting on those policies somehow made Hudak homophobic. Whoever created that spin deserves a medal.

Respectable gains were still made
Did Ontario conservatives lose what should have been their election?  Yes.  Were there still incremental gains to be proud of?  Absolutely.

In Ottawa South, my riding and the riding of McGuinty, he had the worst showing since first being elected in 1990.  Jason MacDonald, the PC candidate, canvassed the entire riding and generated significant support.  The NDP and Green Party also gave a respectable showing in the riding.  Two fringe party candidates – Jean-Serge Brisson of the Libertarian Party and John Redins of the Party for People with Special Needs – also managed to receive just under 500 combined votes, despite never stepping foot in the riding or even indicating their presence with lawn signs or a campaign office.

We need only reflect back upon the 2004 federal election, where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were supposed to easily take down Paul Martin’s Liberals and form the next government.  They did not, but they reduced Martin’s government to a minority and gained 21 seats across Canada.  The election result made Harper consider whether he should remain leader, but his membership was behind him, and only two years later he formed a minority government.  (And look where they are now.)

Or we can consider Mike Harris’ first election as PC leader.  His party was only able to gain three seats – growing from 17 to 20 – but the next election saw Harris form government with 82 seats by blasting the NDP into third place.

Sometimes change is slow and incremental, not a sudden leap in the opposite direction.

In his two years as leader, Hudak has reduced McGuinty’s government to a minority and significantly increased his vote count – only two percent away from McGuinty’s, in fact.

What Hudak needs now is support and optimism, not depression and anger.  Ontario conservatives need to get involved in their local riding association and begin cultivating the conservative base needed to take the next election.  The next platform needs to present real conservative ideas that cannot be dismissed as a “Liberal-lite” agenda, but instead one that really is the change Ontario needs.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Drug injection site decision sets dangerous precedent

In a unanimous decision by all nine judges, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the controversial site drug injection site in Vancouver would be allowed to continue to operate.  The court said that closing the Insite facility would violate drug users’ s. 7 Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.

The court’s decision sets an incredibly dangerous precedent on several levels.  It upholds exemptions from the law; it forces the government to support a drug addict’s continued addiction; and it uses taxpayers’ money to support such destructive addictions.

In May, I wrote for the Prince Arthur Herald about the Supreme Court of Canada hearing arguments both for and against the contentious facility.  I concluded that the court must support the minister’s decision to not renew Insite’s exemption from illegal substances law; that the government cannot support the suspension of its own laws in some areas, in some circumstances. 

In 2008, Health Minister Tony Clement announced that he would not be renewing Insite’s exemption under s. 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.  This exemption previously allowed Insite to operate outside of Canada’s laws, since drug users are obviously breaking several laws.

The court’s recent decision orders the Minister of Health to grant an exemption to Insite, under s. 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, so it could be allowed to continue to operate outside of Canadian law.  S. 56 states:
The Minister may, on such terms and conditions as the Minister deems necessary, exempt any person or class of persons or any controlled substance or precursor or any class thereof from the application of all or any of the provisions of this Act or the regulations if, in the opinion of the Minister, the exemption is necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest.”

It follows that, if exemption is “necessary for a medical or scientific purpose or is otherwise in the public interest,” then not providing an exemption meant Clement did not feel Insite’s operation was for scientific or medical purposes, and certainly not in the public interest.  Yet the court felt they could regulate the minister’s reasoning.

The court’s decision, presupposing that Insite was a successful, helpful institution, allowed government law to be ignored in order to let the facility to continue operations. The court has created a law-free zone – the only place in North America where drug users can break illegal substances laws without being held accountable.  Chief Justice Beverly MacLachlin acknowledges that Insite was created to allow drug users to inject drugs “without fear of arrest and prosecution.”

Furthermore, drug users must obtain their substances illegally. This too was acknowledged by the trial court: “It goes without saying that the substances brought to Insite by users have been obtained from a trafficker in an illegal transaction.  Users are obviously in possession of their substance en route to Insite.” The court’s decision means that drug users cannot be held accountable for illegally buying substances, effectively propping up the dangerous drug trade.

Simply put, Insite is a legal black hole, where laws do not apply and police cannot enforce their mandate to protect Canadians.

Next, we must also consider the morality of using government resources to facilitate drug addictions, rather than ending them. Certainly, Insite provides safer facilities to drug users. As the court acknowleged, the clinic “has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area.”  It is clear that providing clean needles, a sanitary clinic, and the supervision of trained medical staff will reduce incidents surrounding drug injections, especially when they would have otherwise been done with dirty needles, on the streets, and without supervision.

But what should not be presupposed is that it is morally right in any sense to facilitate, endorse, and support drug addicts who wish to continue their addiction, especially when this support comes from the federal government and taxpayers’ wallets.  Nowhere in the judgment did the judges consider this.

It is shocking to learn that Insite admits pregnant women and allows them to inject drugs under the watchful eye of civil servants. How can we allow this atrocity to occur, not only on our watch but also on our tax dollar?

Just to add a bit of humour into the discussion: Insite offers drug detox. services, for those addicts who are trying to kick their addiction.  It’s located directly above Insite, so all a drug user has to do is pass through the drug haven to get to the detox. centre upstairs.  Does this sound like a recipe for failure?

Finally, we reach the problem of public funding for this facility. If Insite were a privately-run charity organization, funded through private donations, it would be far less controversial.  But it’s not.  This is an organization funded by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.  Public money – our hard earned taxes - Our taxes are directly funding a safe haven for drug addicts, free from the constraints of law. 

Wouldn’t our resources be better used for rehabilitation programs, allowing addicts to recover rather than giving them the facilities to continue their addiction? Furthermore, wouldn’t our tax dollars be better used strengthening the administration of justice in order to protect Canadian families?

Canadian voters should be left to determine whether the minister was right or not.  The Prime Minister’s government is accountable to Canadians through the ballot box and their parliamentary offices.  Canadians are able to register their satisfaction or disgust with government decisions by contacting the respective minister; and, if Canadians cannot find a suitable middle ground, that minister or government is not re-elected for another term.  The court demanding that the minister make a decision is a terrible precedent which results in undue interference in parliamentary business.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court’s decision has put Canadians at risk by allowing addicts a safe haven where laws – which would apply anywhere else in Canada – do not apply to them.  They have allowed pregnant women to shoot up in government-sponsored facilities, paid for with our money.  They have relegated any efforts made by family or friends to get the addict clean, in favour of allowing them to continue their habit.

Luckily, the federal government has pledged to review the court’s decision, but it’s now only a matter of time before these law-free zones begin popping up everywhere.

CBC's time has come and gone

In a time where nations around the world are facing economic crises; where Canadians are struggling to pay their bills; and where the Canadian government is undertaking a massive strategic review to cut $4 Billion from the annual budget, why are Canadians still shelling out a massive $1.1 Billion a year to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)?

The Canadian government is not asking anything revolutionary when they are suggesting that Crown corporations and ministries live within their means – Canadian families do it all the time.  Their review is aimed at finding efficiencies where possible, and overall assuring that Canadians get a good value for their tax dollar.

The guiding question when considering the CBC’s funding should be why?  Why do they need $1.1 Billion of government money?  Why should they receive $32 from every Canadian, when there are literally hundreds of news agencies out there, which survive without my money?  Why should we give taxpayer money to the CBC when we can tune into TVO, CTV, or Sun News for free?

With a target of $4 Billion in savings, why not start by cutting the billion dollars from the CBC’s budget?  We’d be 25 per cent of the way there, meaning we’d have to cut $1.1 Billion less from health care, defence, agriculture, and various other federal government portfolios.

Animosity against the CBC is growing.  This week an online petition was released which calls for an “opt out” from the CBC.  It notes

“CBC gets $1.1 Billion of taxpayer funding a year and what do they show for it? A network that caters to a particular point of view and that competes with private broadcasters for advertising dollars and bids on popular television shows.

Furthermore, they have shown that they are unaccountable to oversight by the Information Commissioner in response to Access to Information requests.”

This comes at a challenging time, when the CBC has also been criticized for lavishly treating themselves and several high-profile celebrities to an exclusive red carpet party during the Toronto Film Festival.  With our money.  Ezra Levant estimated that this one night of prestige could have easily cost more than $1 Million (the CBC spokesman refused to confirm or deny that number).  What’s worse is that the people footing the bill (us) were not allowed to attend the party.

But Canadians are largely in the dark when it comes to how much money the CBC actually costs us every year.  A survey by Abacus Data found that 80 per cent of Canadians did not know the CBC received $1.1 Billion each year.  One quarter of those surveyed thought the CBC received about $100 Million – one tenth of the actual figure.  And more than 60 per cent of responders felt $1.1 Billion was too much.

It is clear that the CBC has outlived its usefulness, and is no longer deserving of hardworking Canadians’ billions of dollars in funding.  The CBC needs to compete, like every other news agency.  It needs to be privatized.

Privatization should not be dismissed as a fanatical conservative idea.  Nor should it be relied upon to fix every situation.  Canada’s military, for example, should never be privatized.  The military provides a unique service that cannot and should not be offered by any private company.  Further, they need to be under the direct authority of the government.  What’s special or unique about the CBC?

Privatization has worked across the world in several cases where the government is looking to save money while maintaining a service.

When Via Rail was privatized in 1987, they were able to trim their bloated pay roll by 60 per cent, which had the affect of reducing Via’s debt by 40 per cent.  Since becoming a private company, Via has become dramatically more efficient.

Margaret Thatcher’s privatization of several United Kingdom industries was “so successful in operation as to have won the highest form of flattery from other nations – imitation.”

Countries across the world are facing deficit and debt crises.  In Canada, the federal government is searching for $4 Billion in savings in order to balance the budget by 2014-2015.  Where better to start than by cutting loose a $1.1 Billion burden on taxpayers?

Visit to sign the petition.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Questions for the Ontario Liberal Party

In the final days of the Ontario election, it was revealed that a high-ranking Liberal gave cigarettes to homeless people in exchange for their votes.  Nikki Holland, Liberal Vice President in charge of operations, was caught on tape saying

“I have done crazy things, like...and if anyone repeats this I’ll deny it (until) the cows come home...I have gone to a shelter in the riding of St. Paul’s with a carton of smokes and said, ‘I’ll give you them after you vote.” I have done that...but they were already smokers...”

But not to be outdone in absurdity, the Liberal spin team went to work, saying that she was "just joking" and that she was just repeating tactics that the NDP and Conservatives have used in the past.

Nice try!  Holland cited a specific riding, a specific act, a specific time, and a specific action.  What's more, who would preface a joke by saying they would deny that joke if ever asked?

This is clearly vote buying and not what Ontarians need or want.  It smells of a desperate political party - the one currently forming government, no less - and questions need to be answered.

Elections Ontario should not wait to open an investigation.  Ontario voters need to know immediately whether the Liberals are still using these illegal tactics in the current campaign.  These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked:

  1. How many Liberals used this strategy to buy votes? In which ridings?
  2. How many votes were bought?  In which ridings? (This is particularly important in close races - take Barrie, for example, which the Liberals won in 2007 by only three points.)
  3. Were the cigarettes bought by the Liberal Party, or paid for by Ontario taxpayers?
  4. How else are the Liberals buying votes?
Send your questions to Elections Ontario via any of the contact methods listed on their website.