Tweeting on election day: the rights of the individual vs the rights of the community

Elections Canada has issued a warning: it is forbidden to divulge election results before all polling stations have closed in Western Canada. Those who break this law are subject to a $25 000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. The 1938 law was aimed at traditional media, and can seem anachronistic in the age of social media. A number of Twitter users are mobilizing to defy the restriction.

Let’s calm down a little. It’s not because one CAN do something that one SHOULD do it. How about hitting pause on this self-centered age we live in, to think about this a minute. Around the world, in Libya, in Egypt, in Iran, in Tunisia, in Irak, in Afghanistan, people are killing one another in pro-democratic movements.

And what do we do? We get indignant when faced with a law that seeks to protect our democracy and we gear up to defy it on Twitter. To what end?

Yes, the law should be changed to better reflect our new communicational reality. No, we should not sacrifice democracy on the altar of Twitter. Let’s respect our democratic institutions and the right of Western Canadians to express themselves through the vote, free of all external influence.

Bottom line? Grow up.

On election day, until the last polls close in all electoral districts, the Canada Elections Act prohibits the dissemination of:

election advertising

results of election opinion surveys not previously released

election results from other electoral districts

Note to my readers: For the first time since launching this blog over 4 years ago, I’m translating a post. The challenge of having a bilingual blog is that you know that no post can be read by 100% of the people who follow you. I chose a bilingual blog format because I wanted to engage with two communities. It happened that those communities were separated by language. A bilingual blog is a truly Canadian compromise to a truly Canadian dilemna. The problem is that, this time, I want to be read by both anglo and franco Canadians. For those of you who master the language of Molière as well as the language of Shakespeare, my apologies for the redundancy.


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