Election Day in Canada is Finally Here, Polls Close Soon

Election day is finally here. After a short campaign, Canadian’s will finally have a say in this hot mess.

The day is finally here. Last month, the election was called, ultimately and mercifully killing Bill C-10 in the process. American’s who are reading this right now are no doubt saying, “wait, that was it?” mainly because elections there often take about a year. To be fair, there was plenty of pre-election campaigning in the two months leading up to this election. It proved that Canada heading into an election was one of Canada’s worst kept secrets.

If anything, from the get go, the question was always, “what is this election all about?” At the beginning, Trudeau gave an incredibly weak answer in that this was about letting Canadians have a say in where Canada goes with COVID-19. No one really believed that this is the reason to head into an election. This failure to give a good answer on the Liberals part ultimately caused their chances of obtaining a majority government to evaporate.

Opposition leaders kept drilling the point that this election was unnecessary. That point ultimately stuck because it was obvious that Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, called an election because he thought he could snap up a majority government. Trudeau, for his part, needed to come up with something better than such a weak response. That answer was never forthcoming and, in that vacuum of reason, left the impression that this was an election about nothing.

It’s a point that caused media outlets to scramble to define the election as being about something. Indeed, there were plenty of attempts ranging from making it about abortion, gun control, French identity, vaccines, and who best to lead the country through COVID-19. They even went so far as to make the English leaders debate as combative as possible to stir up something, anything. Not helping the cause was a generally lacklustre line-up of political party platforms which seem to have a lot of recycled commitments. This proved to make this campaign even more sleepy.

So, we’ve offered our analysis on the situation through the lens of digital rights. The problem is that so little about the campaign was about digital rights. Almost every party seemed to support the three pronged approach to cracking down on the free and open Internet. Affordability and privacy seemed to be rendered to, at best, a footnote. If anything, voting on digital rights was like answering a multiple choice question where the question is, “Do you support the open Internet?” and every answer you can choose from is “no”. At that stage, you are voting for the party that causes the least amount of damage.

It’s easy to conclude that this would be a low voter turnout election. The election is proving to be a total waste of time, the outcome of a Liberal minority seemed to be a sure thing. It more or less defeats the purpose of voting for some people. Weirdly enough, early voting is up which kind of makes you look at that aspect sideways. We don’t know what election day voting is going to be like in terms of voter turnout, so there might be a drop by that point, but this prediction is, surprisingly, not looking good. It’s pretty bizarre on that angle.

Another observation to be made here is that it seems that others are finally coming around to our positions. One position being that digital rights is largely absent from the public conversation. Others are now agreeing with us on that perspective. Digital rights is basically non-existent.

The unfortunate aspect to this is the fact that while they may be absent despite this being huge issues before the election, they will once again very likely be major issues after the election is over. The Liberals, the party that is likely going to win the election with a minority government, vowed to enact their war on the Internet within 100 days of forming government. This with their three pronged approach of Bill C-10, online harms, and link taxes. Canadian’s were simply unable to have a say on any of this throughout the election. What’s more is that the issues that did get some attention (i.e. affordability) will probably disappear after the election is over.

while an election saved Canadians from the awful nature of Bill C-10, another election to save Canadians again is, at this point, seemingly off the table. Whatever momentum to go into an election again is now wiped off the table. So, what will be in play is the question of how well opposition can be in stalling speech regulation and more. A minority government would certainly help in this regard. What’s more is that a minority government is, barring any major surprises, what will go down this election.

Failing that is the question of litigation. Once things like speech regulation and online harms becomes law, can this be challenged? The answer to this is, “easily”. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms do offer protection for speech. Further, caselaw does often side with the freedom of expression side. So, this will boil down to how much damage can be mitigated during the litigation process. Can an injunction be won? Obviously, this is a last resort tactic, but one that could very easily be in play.

So, one question at this point is, “what is the next steps?” Well, after the election is over, there is the speech from the throne. That often provides indications on where the government intends on going right off the starting block. Obviously, there is going to be a budget which is a confidence motion. Of course, what we’ll be looking for is language that revolves around the Liberals war on the open Internet. The Liberals were shoulder to the wheel for cracking down on the Internet and they were proud to wave this around in their platform. So, will this get brought up in the throne speech? That is something we’ll be looking for.

First, we have to work out any potential surprises with the results of the election. You never know if there are any surprise curveballs thrown in the mix, so the results will eliminate any uncertainty. We’ll probably have indications on where things are headed for certain sometime tonight or tomorrow. After that, we can take things from there.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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