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Election Notebook: Parties hit a sour note with a dismal D-minus on democracy

A fidler performs before the leader of Canada's Conservatives, Andrew Scheer, campaigns for the coming election in Little Harbour, N.S., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.
A fidler performs before the leader of Canada's Conservatives, Andrew Scheer, campaigns for the coming election in Little Harbour, N.S., on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau this week accused Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives of running one of the “dirtiest, nastiest” election campaigns in Canadian history .

That’s debatable, but few would argue the onslaught of ad hominem attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories on social media targeting a politician — Trudeau — has been unprecedented, in a Canadian election, at least.

That’s ironic because in May, Democracy Watch complained the Trudeau government failed to strengthen laws to stop fake online election ads and false claims.

The non-partisan advocacy group warned the lack of action would make this campaign “more like the 2016 U.S. Presidential election — more dishonest and dominated by wealthy interests running false ad campaigns aimed at trying to undermine the election.”

If you think democracy is under siege in Canada, you will want to read an update Democracy Watch published Friday. It’s a report card on the federal parties’ democratic-reform platforms, looking at everything from honesty in politics to whistleblower protection.

Liberals and Conservatives received the same grade: D-minus. The New Democrats didn’t do much better, garnering a D-plus. The Bloc Québécois got an F, while the People’s Party of Canada received an “incomplete” because the issue was absent from its platform.

The best mark — B-minus — went to Elizabeth May’s Greens because they “promised 25 key, systemic democratic reforms and had good grades in four of the five areas graded in the report card.”

Read the report at democracywatch.ca .

Democracy Watch had previously urged the Commissioner of Canada Elections to launch specific investigations related to the current campaign.

One should focus on whether the Conservatives colluded with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Democracy Watch said. Another, it said, should focus on whether the conservative Manning Centre is violating electoral laws by not disclosing who donated money being funnelled to five groups, including Québec Fier, that are running attack ads against the Liberals.

Global interest

Barack Obama’s endorsement of Trudeau on Twitter on Wednesday was not the first time Canada’s election made global news.

In fact, the campaign has been making headlines around the world for weeks, perhaps because Trudeau has been a media darling on the international stage.

It started with the jaw-dropping photo of Trudeau in brown face, first published by Time, the U.S. news magazine.

Here’s a look back at our election through the eyes of the world:

Strategic voting

Some frown on strategic voting, arguing it keeps smaller parties down and stifles democracy.

But with Canadians deeply divided and Liberals and Conservatives tied at the top of polls, expect many voters to hold their noses and cast ballots for their second choice on Monday.

If your first choice has no chance of winning, the thinking goes, why not vote for your second or third choice if that might help them beat a party that you fundamentally disagree with?

If you’re mulling a strategic vote, a couple of websites can help. These seat projection sites use polling data and results from previous elections to forecast which party is leading in each of Canada’s 338 seats. Check out 338Canada ( 338canada.com ) and Too Close To Call ( tooclosetocall.ca ).

Keep in mind depriving your favourite party of a vote may deprive them of some cash. Elections Canada reimburses part of the election expenses incurred by candidates who get at least 10 per cent of the vote and parties that receive at least 2 per cent nationally.

Election night

This is the final Notebook of the campaign, but join us Monday night at montrealgazette.com for live election coverage through the night, with a focus on Montreal and the rest of Quebec.

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ariga@postmedia.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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