Well, the big decision was handed down today – Canadian media will continue to be in violation of the law if they publish or broadcast election results before the polls close in British Columbia. Read the complete judgement here. In his reasons, Justice Michel Bastarache (a Chretien appointee) confirms that the law does indeed contravene Charter rights of freedom of expression, but claims that to protect “Canadians’ subjective fears and apprehension of harm”, the law is just. Some standard! Thanks in part to the first Conservative appointment to the Supreme Courtin nearly 15 years, Justice Marshall Rothstein, the scale tipped 5-4 in Bastarache’s favour, and the conviction of Paul Bryan for his “electionresultscanada.com” web site is reinstated. (To their credit, justices Abella, McLachlin, Binnie and LeBel placed freedom of expression above unproven subjective fears of harm).
Now, I’m not as worked up about this case as one particular reader of this blog is…but I can say that this “subjectivity” principle can be applied to many other worries regarding elections. For example, CBC runs a show 11:00 pm entitled “The Hour”, in which a semi-talented-alt-rock-DJ-turned-hipster-talk-show-host expresses open hostility to Stephen Harper and his Conservative government on a nightly basis. Some of us feel, subjectively, that this government employee with bad facial hair influences some voters to favour the NDP, Greens, or Liberals. Will the Supreme Court agree with us, and stop this arts-welfare recipient from commenting on politics? I hope so. I really do. Where do I file suit? Can I just call up Justice Bastarache and ask for a judicial fiat?
Damnit, Harper, have some balls and de-fund the CBC.