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Within a democracy, you can’t get much lower than committing election fraud. That’s a straight-up attack on our government and something that should be vigorously opposed by citizens of all political stripes. The Conservatives, under Stephen Harper, have never once committed election fraud.

They’ve committed it multiple times.

Between May 2007 and [Fall 2011] when the Conservative Party pleaded guilty to Elections Act charges, Elections Canada and the director of public prosecutions spent far more for lawyers, forensic accountants and investigators than the $52,000 the party paid in fines for violating its spending limits in the 2006 campaign.

The new figures, released under the Access to Information Act, come as the electoral watchdog undertakes an even broader series of investigations into complaints from voters about phone calls received during last year’s federal election in about 200 ridings across the country.

Former parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro will spend the night in a Lindsay, Ont., jail after being sentenced to one month in prison, followed by four months of house arrest, for breaking the law by overspending during the 2008 federal election. […]

The offences are an “affront” to the principles of Canada’s democratic system and the very “antithesis” of democracy, said Justice Lisa Cameron. “This type of cheating and lying will result in serious sanctions. … Custody is required to reflect the need for denunciation and deterrence,” Cameron said.

Electoral fraud occurred during the last federal election, a federal court judge ruled on Thursday, but there is no proof that it affected the outcomes in six ridings at issue, so the elections will not be overturned.

The court challenge was brought by the Council of Canadians, which sought to overturn the election of six Conservative MPs who won close ridings where there was evidence that someone tried to affect the results by calling opposition supporters and telling them their polling stations had moved.

Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled that the calls “struck at the integrity of the electoral process by attempting to dissuade voters from casting ballots for their preferred candidates. This form of ‘voter suppression,’ was, until the 41st General Election, largely unknown in this country.”

The Conservatives know they can’t win a fair election, so they’re working hard to make our elections unfair. This goes far beyond merely breaking the law.

Robert MacDermid, a political scientist at York University in Toronto who specializes in political party financing, said the elimination of the per-vote subsidy will actually benefit the Conservatives more than any other party.

While the Tories are receiving the largest subsidy, the party also has shown it has the strongest fundraising machine and is best prepared to solicit donations from its members in the post-subsidy era, he said. “The removal of it will maintain the Conservatives’ advantage over the other parties,” Mr. MacDermid said. […]

The per-vote subsidy was valuable for levelling the playing field for political parties, he said, by ensuring parties weren’t just financed by wealthier Canadians who can afford to donate more dollars and more often.

The government’s proposed overhaul of the Elections Act includes elements that constitute an affront to democracy, according to Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand. In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio’s The House, Mayrand said “my reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country.” […]

The Fair Elections Act says it “limits the chief electoral officer’s power to provide information to the public.” Under the proposed bill, the only role of the chief electoral officer would be to inform the public of when, where, and how to vote. Elections Canada would be forbidden from launching ad campaigns encouraging Canadians to vote. Surveys and research would be forbidden under the new bill, Mayrand said.

“Most of the research will no longer be published because these are communications to the public.” The chief electoral officer and the commissioner of Canada elections would also no longer be allowed to publish their reports, Mayrand said. “These reports will no longer be available. In fact, not only not available. I don’t think it will be done at all.”

We shouldn’t vote for a party which has repeatedly spit in the face of fair voting.