Elections Canada sees no problem with
blogging during the election
[PoliticsWatch Updated 4:15 p.m. December 2, 2005]
OTTAWA — Canadian bloggers can breathe a little easier Friday after Canada's chief electoral officer confirmed that he doesn't plan to have a crackdown on political blogs during the election campaign.
Jean-Pierre Kingsley said at a press conference in Ottawa that as far as he is concerned political blogs are a form of free expression, not political advertising.
"I don't think that there's going to be a major problem with respect to blogs," Kingsley said in response to a question from PoliticsWatch.
"This is a means where by a lot of people have decided they are going to express themselves
"If a political party or a candidate were to have a blog then that would fall under the financing regime. But if it's the supporters, there are going to be supporters all over for various parties and it's a form of self expression."
One conservative blogger said this week he was warned by someone he knew in government that there could be a problem with
blogs that endorse candidates.
The three major political parties all have supporters who are members of a community of bloggers, who share links to other members in the community on what
are known as blogrolls. The blogging networks are not directly affiliated with the parties. The Liberals have
Liblogs, the Conservatives have The
Blogging Tories and the NDP has The
These blogs are made up largely of individual bloggers' analysis and opinions of the latest political developments, but some include areas where you can volunteer or donate to the
party or help candidates.
Several of the Conservative bloggers even have a slick graphic proclaiming their support for Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.
Brent Colbert, who ran for the Conservative nomination in Halton earlier this year, operates one of the better known Blogging Tory sites,
Colbert's Comments - with the catchy slogan "I know I'm right, what about
After Colbert posted about the Liberals' plan not to put much emphasis on blogs in this campaign, Colbert said "an old friend" who works in "official Ottawa" told him "he hoped that I'm not endorsing any candidate in the election campaign on my
When Colbert told him about the Harper graphic the friend suggested he "re-think that."
"I tried to press him for more details but all he could say was for me to be careful," Colbert
In the same post he later raised concern that the Liberals could try to "use Elections Canada in an attempt to level the playing field" in the blogging community, which is dominated by conservatives, even in Canada.
Colbert's concern, however, does not come out of nowhere.
In America, where blogs played a key role in the 2004 election campaign, the blogging community was up in arms in June when the Federal Election Comission held hearings to examine whether blogs provided unregulated benefits to political campaigns.
Those hearings prompted a community of Missouri-based Democratic bloggers, led by former U.S. Senator
Jean Carnahan, to seek an advisory opinion
from the FEC to gain a so-called journalist exemption.
The group of bloggers, known as Fired Up, was highly partisan, openly endorsing Democratic candidates and even raising money for
them in some cases.
"The Commission concludes that the costs Fired Up incurs in covering or carrying news stories, commentary, or editorials on its websites are encompassed by the press exception, and therefore do not constitute 'expenditures' or 'contributions' under the Act and Commission regulations," the FEC said in its
That FEC opinion has calmed down the U.S. blogging community, who were concerned about federal regulations of their activities.
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