Guess who’s in this election!
Election: guess who’s back!
Numerous political figures and agencies (eg Elections Canada) have publicly worried – and warned -- Canadians about dirty tricks in the present national election. The warnings cite examples from the US election which helped deliver the presidency to Trump. Smaller voices have already warned of dirty tricks in the recent Ontario and Alberta elections.
“Tricks” range from the infamous 2011 Robocall Scandal (“your polling station has been moved”) and the In-and-Out 2006 Scandal (over-spending) to multiple smaller, quieter manipulative measures – spreading false news and quotes and, especially, to suppress voting; a lower voter turnout favours the more ideologically-driven parties – from India, Hungary, the USA to US client-states in Latin America.
These warnings have had some effect: judicial agencies and investigative reporters have delved into the not-so-clear activities of specific marketing and public relations agencies. In Canada, The Tyee’s reporters found that a world-wide network funding these measures, and especially funding training for campaign operatives, is operating under the International Democratic Union (IDU). It calls itself a “world-wide mutual-aid network of conservative parties”.
The IDU offers “election technology seminars” (how riding associations can use Artificial Intelligence), “campaign seminars”, and, very importantly, fund-raising, advertising and organizational training, mainly for campaigns.
The IDU’s own funding is unclear, since most comes from non-profit foundations which do not have to reveal their funding amounts nor the people involved. The Koch Brothers, US billionaires, have not been shy. One former employee, Mike Roman (his Koch salary in 2016: $286,000), has sat not only on the US Republican Party National Committee but as treasurer of the IDU. He has acknowledged, with pride, digging up dirt on liberals of all stripes, on environmental groups, unions, etc.
Disgraced Ontario cabinet minister, and confident of Harper, Tony Clement, was Vice-Chair of IDU from 2011 to 2014. Then, in 2018, Stephen Harper was elected Chairman. Harper has recruited Israel’s Likud Party (ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Library), and has encouraged and worked with India’s BJP party, Hungary’s Viktor Orbàn, the new Greek right-wing leadership – and Andrew Scheer.
While Harper has played a quieter role in Canadian affairs since his defeat, he has continued to attack the Liberals – especially on pipeline and oil-industry policies – and has fund-raised for Scheer regularly; he is reported to be one of Scheer’s constant political advisors.
While much of this can be seen – or fluffed off – as “politics as usual”, given our new political landscape of fake news, disinformation, troll farms, Russian (and other) meddling, it is worth all Canadians’ time to pay closer attention to these areas within the present election campaign. Mike Romain himself made it clear: “If an election is worth winning, there will be someone willing to steal it”. Phoney issues, attention-diverters, fabricated crisis, dirty tricks now guaranteed!
Hence, we – you and I – have to become Canada’s last line of defence in this election, the latest in the modern world-wide assault on representative democracy.