THUNDER BAY – It is a situation that has been in effect since 1938. For Canadians, it has been a criminal offense to broadcast election results of a federal election to areas where the polls are not closed. The federal Conservatives are, it appears planning to toss that law on the scrap heap. Technology has literally made it impossible to reasonably enforce the old law. The Minister took to Twitter this morning to announce that the Conservatives plan to change the law before the next federal election.
Once this legislation is passed the coverage of election results will change. In reality, over the past twenty years, people have shared results by email, cell calls and land-line calls. People in the west who wanted to know what was happening had ways to find out, and did.
“Our Government is committed to bringing Canadian elections into the 21st century by getting rid of this dated and unenforceable law,” said Minister Uppal. “Canadians should have the freedom to communicate about election results without fear of penalization.” The original purpose of the ban was to prevent Western Canadian voters from knowing results from the Atlantic Provinces before casting their ballots. At the time, there was a four hour difference between the closing of the polls in Atlantic Canada and in British Columbia. To address this gap, Parliament introduced staggered voting hours in 1996 which ensures that the outcome of any general election cannot be known before polls close anywhere in Canada.
“We’re in the 21st century,” added Minister Uppal. “The ban, which was enacted in 1938, does not make sense with the widespread use of social media and other modern communications technology.”