Are the military dictators of Burma now advising the B.C. government?
Who else, in 2008, could come up with a plan to limit dissent and criticism of the government during the critical time preceding an important vote … and then enforce their draconian anti-democratic laws with crippling fines and, if a compliant judge so orders, even with jail terms.
The Burmese generals did just that in the runup to the referendum on their proposed new Constitution: the dictators made it ILLEGAL to oppose the new Constitution or campaign against it. And the penalties there were no doubt be crippling, in more ways than one!
The B.C. Liberal government is not moving as far as the Burmese dictatorship did, to be sure, but certainly and clearly it IS moving in the direction of stifling criticism and dissent during a most critical time … the leadup to the provincial election.
Under Bill 42, restrictions will prevent third parties (unions, business and community organizations) from spending more than $150,000 in the 148 days preceding the vote.
The cash limit in the proposed restrictive legislation … though puny in today’s multi-media high tech advertising world .. is irrelevant: the principal that any government be allowed to SILENCE its critics in any way, deserves TOTAL repudiation from all sides of the political spectrum.
This is really not a left-right issue.
The question is: Do we live in a democratic country and province, where there is freedom of speech ( within the legal boundaries of libel, slander, etc) or not?
That is the issue at stake here. The public are intelligent enough to judge the ads for themselves .. and accept or reject their content on their own. We don’t need Big Brother .. or Big Gordon or Big Wally Oppal (Attorney General) … to censor what we can see or read.
Is this British Columbia or Burmese Columbia?
The government has NO RIGHT to tell unions, business groups or community organizations how much they can spend on advertising, what they can say or when they can say it.
And the proposed Liberal legislation is especially hypocritical in light of the MILLIONS OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS the government will no doubt spend on advertising prior to the May election telling us what a wonderful job it is doing.
Personally, I am more concerned about the waste of so much taxpayers’ money in advertising by government than I am about third parties spending their members’ of clients’ funds.
Third party ads can help level the playing field in the face of all that government puffery we will see (although business groups historically have a lot more cash to spend on advertising supporting the Liberals than the unions do to criticize it).
I believe the proposed law is an unwarranted breach of the Charter of Rights and would ultimately be ruled illegal by the Supreme Court (here we go again, Gordon Campbell!), but of course, by that time, the election will have come and gone.
The Burmese Generals would be smiling; but the voters of B.C. should rise up and stop this legislation from taking away their rights, before our democratic society takes a step towards the Burma solution.