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(en) Two Students under Investigation for Destroying their Ballots

From Jonathan Oppenheim <jono@physics.ubc.ca>
Date Thu, 5 Feb 1998 19:15:12 -0800 (PST)

     A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

the following is an old news release 
which i forgot to forward.
the investigation is still going on

----- Begin Included Message -----
News Advisory
For Immediate Release
Thursday, December 11th

Two Students under Investigation for Destroying their Ballots

Vancouver - Two students, Victoria Scott, 26, and Jonathan Oppenheim, 27,
are currently being investigated by Elections Canada for destroying their
ballots during the federal election. The students helped organize the
National Vote for Democracy Campaign, and destroyed their ballots in order
to draw attention to the shallowness of our procedural democracy. Ottawa
claims that their token act of free speech is an offense under the Canada
Elections Act, and the pair could be sent to jail for up to five years.

Mr. Oppenheim was interviewed for more than two hours yesterday by two
special investigators for Elections Canada. He was asked why he had torn up
his ballot, and was also asked a series of questions on his affiliation
with various local political groups. Ms. Scott refused to meet with
representatives of Elections Canada. It is not known how much this
investigation is costing Ottawa.

"It is shocking when this government investigates people for legitimate
political protest; the investigation itself is intended to have a chilling
effect on free speech," said Kate Hughes, the student's lawyer. Ottawa's
tactics are ironic given that the students were protesting a lack of free
speech and democracy in Canada.

When asked why he had destroyed his ballot, Mr. Oppenheim replied, "We
should not take the right to vote lightly, but democracy is more than just
a ceremonious event which occurs once every five years."  According to the
group, voting is not synonymous with democracy. "It doesn't matter who you
vote for, the government always gets in - the government being big business
and the power of money. The "winning" party is just the changeable mask on
the ugly face of corporate power. "

"We need more than the illusion of democracy," said Victoria Scott. "People
must continue to press for greater self-determination, and democracy must
continue to evolve. We cannot become complacent."

"Today, big business and large corporations wield more power than people,"
added Oppenheim. "Those who affect change in this country don't do it by
voting - they play golf with the prime minister or pay $500 to attend a
fundraising dinner."

For more information, contact Kate Hughes at Askew, Fiorillo, Hughes and
Glavin (734-8001), or Jonathan Oppenheim at jono@physics.ubc.ca.
Commissioner Raymond Landry, can be reached through Elections Canada at
(613) 998-4051 or 1-800-267-7360.

----- End Included Message -----

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