The Rest

May 4, 2011

‘Cheeky Australian’ in shock Canada election scandal-gate

Canadians were prevented from learning the results of their own elections yesterday, until social media lent some assistance.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

There’s pressure in Canada for an overhaul of the country’s bizarre restrictions on reporting election results after social and mainstream media breached rules preventing the broadcast of results before polls had closed in the west of the country.

In the lead-up to the national election held Monday, there was considerable speculation that Twitter would be used to break the ban, with a hashtag #tweettheresults, and a website dedicated to it. As the polls in Atlantic Canada closed yesterday morning our time, however, the Tweet the Results site begged off its plan to reveal results after a threat from Elections Canada to impose the $25,000 fine that accompanies breaching the ban.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

8 thoughts on “‘Cheeky Australian’ in shock Canada election scandal-gate

  1. Murray Hall

    Nice work, Bernard.

  2. Grinder

    Wait, don’t we still have this kind of thing in Australia for federal elections? Or is it a kind of self-censorship that the official count results don’t start to come out until after the polls close in WA? Although the exit polls are widely reported I guess.

  3. Craig Snyder

    If the laws don’t change sign me up as a fellow tweeter for the next election in 4 or 5 years time.

    Actually, I like Shallot’s recommendation and it should be applied here as well. That is, don’t release any results until all the polls have closed across the country. I would go even farther and allow the counting but ban the release of the results until all the polls close.

    In Australia, once the polls close in WA we can then get meaningful results published from the start rather than the trickle that come in over the first hour or so.

    An added aspect of this is that come the close of the WA polls and all of the east coast results are released at once, it will be entertaining to watch the media hacks and pundits quickly try to make sense out of it all!

  4. Down and Out of Sài Gòn

    Canadian by birth, Australian by naturalisation. And I for one say: good on ya, Bernard.

  5. Tomboy

    Ah, but Monsieur Keane, what about the French in Quebec? Nothing for them. Tabernac! Vive la Quebec libré!

  6. Aphra

    Actually, my granddad told me that the 48 hour prohibition on print media was because of some scurrilous lies published in the press, deliberately, which caused the besmirched candidate to lose the election as he had no chance of rebuttal. Seemed a reasonable reaction to me. Today, obviously, we have a much more honorable press, and press ownership, which wouldn’t dream of doing anything underhand to win an election.

    After President Bush won his second term, my friends in California told me of some extraordinary (and illegal?) happenings in that state which were a direct result of their knowing how the other states had voted. It sounded very nasty to me.

    I believe that all polls should be closed before any progress counts are announced. I can’t see how this is an attack on anyone’s freedom of speech.

  7. Andrew Bartlett

    While they’re getting rid of that dumb law, they should also get rid of the one that prohibits people outside of Canada from seeking to influence who Canadians vote for or encourage them to vote a certain way.

    Prohibiting donations or funding from overseas is fair enough, but stopping people from other countries being able to post a message saying they reckon people should vote for the NDP or whoever is just silly.

  8. Peter Fuller

    A close reading of Bernard’s post confirms my memory that it was the electronic (explicitly not print) media that was subject to the prohibition. A vestige of it remains with the advertising blackout from Midnight Wednesday prior to the polls.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details