Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador's New Media Laws Do Not Correlate to U.S. Criticism

Title page of the new Ecuadorian Media Laws. These laws were passed by the Ecuadorian National Assembly on June 25, 2013. As discussed below, Ecuador has faced unjustified criticism from western governments and organizations for its media laws.
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) holds the view that public and private media should not have a free reign to print and broadcast whatever information and opinion they want. In addition, the FDA believes that public and private media should be required legally to provide broad and balanced election coverage of all registered parties (which have at least 0.5 percent popular support) during election periods (0.5 Percent Rule, 2013). The FDA believes that democratic elections are fundamentally about the voice of the people, and that public and private media are information providers during election periods (Media Election Content, 2013). To help ensure that the people make the most informed decision on Election Day, the media's election role is to provide broad and balanced coverage, rather than narrow and imbalanced coverage.

Ecuador's 2013 media laws, despite criticism from various western governments and media organizations, are consistent with the FDA's media standards. Ecuador's media laws emphasize broad and balanced election coverage through media ownership concentration laws, code of media election coverage which supports broad and balanced coverage, broad and inclusive broadcast licensing law, and responsible media content. In addition, the Council for the Regulation and Development of Communications, Ecuador's media oversight committee, is guided by the media laws. Further, Ecuadorian government surveillance on its citizens unlike in other counties must be authorized by Ecuador's independent judiciary. Furthermore, a President's decree of a State of Exception (media censorship) is only permitted during an emergency as defined by law and which is held in check by the power of the National Assembly to repeal a State of Exception at anytime. 

Legislative Research

Media Election Coverage

The media is required to provide all political movement and parties with equal conditions in debates, interview, programs, and election coverage. The National Election Council will enforce this law by encouraging media organizations to take measures to uphold equal coverage (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 72).

Radio and television licenses are distributed based on the following formula: 33 percent for public media; 33 percent for private media; and 34 percent for community media (including non-profit organization) (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 106). [Broad and diverse distribution of radio and licenses encourages a plurality of news coverage; Bolivia has a similar licensing policy.]

Private and community radio and television licenses are determined by transparent public tender (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 110).

Ownership concentration of radio and television licenses are disallowed. An individual or organization can only have one AM radio frequency, one FM radio frequency, and one frequency for television (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 113). [Limits on ownership concentration encourages pluralistic news coverage.]

A single producer on a national television channel may not have more than 25 percent of the fee schedule or procurement of the channel (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 99). 

A national production, as opposed to a single producer, must the participation of at least 80 percent of the Ecuadorian people and legal residents in its processing (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 100).

Media is forbidden to produce or publish information which smears repetitively in one or more media a natural or legal person or diminishes his or her public credibility (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 26). [Smear refers to slander.]

Related Legislative Research

Media Independence and Freedom

The public media has "editorial autonomy and independence from political power" (Organic Communications Bill, 2013 Chapter 1, Section 1, Definitions).

The objective of media is freedom of debate and opinions (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Chapter 1, Section 1, Objectives).

All Ecuadorians have freedom of expression including freedom to receive, find, produce, and disseminate information, and freedom to access information and content of any kind (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Articles 17, 24; Sections 33, 42).

Public authorities are prohibited from censoring media prior to the dissemination of any information (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 18).

Journalists have freedom to express consciousness and protections for professional secrecy and confidentiality of sources (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Section 39; Articles 40-41). 

During a state of emergency, the president can suspend freedom of expression (Ecuadorian Constitution, 2008, Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 4, Article 164). However, president's emergency decree is checked by the following:
  1. The President's decree of a State of Exception shall be in force for up to a maximum period of 60 days. If the grounds for the decree persist, it can be renewed for an additional 30 days (Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, 2008, Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 4, Article 166).
  2. The National Assembly has the power to repeal a presidential decree at any time, without detriment to any ruling about its constitutional validity that might be issued by the Constitutional Court (Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, 2008, Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 4, Article 166). 
  3. A State of Exception may observe the principles of need, proportionality, legality, temporariness, territoriality, and reasonableness. In addition, a State of Exception must indicate cause and motivation, territorial scope of application, period of duration, measures applied, rights suspended or restricted, and notifications (which are consistent with the Constitution and international treaties) (Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, 2008, Title 4, Chapter 3, Section 4, Article 164).
Checks and Balances on Council that Oversees New Media Law

Counselors of the Council for the Regulation and Development of Communications can be dismissed if he or she accepts a bribe, engages in political propaganda, violates prerequisites for council membership, or misses council session three times in a row (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Articles 51-52).

A representative of the President leads the five-member Council for the Regulation and Development of Information and Communication (Neuman and Ayala, 2013). [Therefore, the Council may be biased to the President. Yet, the Council is guided by the media laws.]

Surveillance

Unwarranted surveillance of personal communications is illegal. Ecuadorian citizens have a right to privacy (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 31).

Surveillance of personal communications is only allowed if it is authorized by an Ecuadorian judge (Organic Communications Bill, 2013, Article 31).

The Ecuadorian Judiciary is an independent branch of government. The Judiciary has administrative, economic, and financial autonomy. In addition, no other branch of government has the authority to perform duties for ordinary administration of justice (Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador, Title 4, Chapter 4, Article 168).

References

0.5 Percent Rule. (2013). Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from href="http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/04/fda-talking-points-series-05-percent.html

Burch, S. (2013, June 17). Ecuador finally has its new communications law. Latin America in Movement. Retrieved from http://alainet.org/active/64779&lang=en

Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador. (2008). Republic of Ecuador. Ecuador: Official Register. Retrieved from http://www.mmrree.gob.ec/pol_exterior/constit_eng.pdf

Organic Communications Bill (2013, June 25). Ecuadorian National Assembly. Retrieved from http://documentacion.asambleanacional.gob.ec/alfresco/d/d/workspace/SpacesStore/94ab3aff-08d5-4ad4-8839-8c6b91543b5a/Ley%20Org%C3%A1nica%20Comunicaci%C3%B3n

Media Election Content. (2013). Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/03/fda-talking-points-series-media.html

Neuman, W., Ayala, M. (2013, June 14). Ecuador legislature approves curbs on news media. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/world/americas/ecuador-legislature-approves-curbs-on-news-media.html?_r=1







Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement











Mr. Anthony Johnson, Researcher Foundation for Democratic Advancement

Sunday, June 16, 2013

FDA Talking Points: Legislative Electoral Process

In its 2012 Electoral Fairness Report on the United States, the FDA identifies a sound legislative process including sound and effective citizen complaint and judicial processes, but weak election laws in the areas of electoral finance and media election coverage. As stated below, a legislative process is only as effective as the laws which make-up the process.
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) takes the position that the legislative electoral process including election law and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms, is important to a well-functioning and legitimate democracy. However, legislative electoral process is only as effective as the laws which are being monitored and enforced. For example, if there are severe fines for electoral finance wrongdoing, and yet no electoral finance transparency law, then these fines or enforcement mechanism have no consequence.

In addition, legislative electoral process with strong and comprehensive election law is contingent on sound monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. For examples, if there are laws for electoral finance transparency of all registered candidates and parties, and yet very weak penalties for electoral finance wrongdoing, then this required transparency has minimal consequence. Similarly, if there are severe fines and lengthy imprisonment for election fraud, and yet very limited monitoring mechanisms, then these fines and imprisonment will have minimal impact on an election process. Consequently, the FDA gives high audit score value to election law followed by monitoring and enforcement mechanisms and significantly less value to legislative process itself.

In its on-going 2013 international democracy audit involving 45 countries and over 75 percent of the world's population from every continent, the FDA did not include legislative process as a research variable because, as mentioned, of its dependency on election law and rules.Yet, in its assessment of rule of law for each country in the international audit, the FDA has a checklist item for legislative process in the form of an independent election administration body and citizen complaints process.

From its research on democracy worldwide since 2007, the FDA has observed pseudo democracies in many Western countries whereby electoral processes have various layers of unfair and fair processes, and with an overall cumulative impact of electoral bias to large, established political parties. Typically, these parties through their elected membership create the election laws. As long as election law is tied to an inherent conflict of interest (parties and their elected members creating the laws and rules of the elections they participate in), then the FDA believes a true people-based democracy cannot exist. Instead democracy gets hijacked by special interests through political status quo and predetermined election competition. In a special interest-based democracy, elected officials act as the front persons and the illusory basis of a people-based democracy. 

One of the best ways to gauge the legitimacy of a democracy is how much power the people have over elected officials, whether through recall, referendum, NGOs with the same political rights as parties (like in Bolivia), and direct policy and legislative say through direct democracy and citizen committees and organizations. Again, the existence of such policies and their impacts may be illusory because, for instance, the thresholds are so high for recall that this mechanism is rendered impractical and thereby useless. For example, a government which allows recall of elected officials requires a 40 percent or more signed petition of the electorate to activate a recall vote, or allows citizen-initiated referendums subject to at least a 25 percent signed petition of the electorate and approval of the government. If there is minimal public political power over elected officials like in Canada and the United States at the federal levels of government, then the FDA believes this deficiency suggests a weak democracy and maybe a non-democracy.

References

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States. (2013). Revised. Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from democracychange.org

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Canada. (2013) Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from democraychange.org







Mr. Stephen Garvey Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement






Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Edward Snowden--U.S. Headed for Tyranny or Already in an Early Stage of Tyranny?


The recent release of a 41-slide PowerPoint by Edward Snowden, an intelligence contractor for the National Security Agency who has since been fired, shows that the U.S. federal government has not only been snooping on personal communications of foreigners (97 billion pieces of communications worldwide for just March 2013 according to the Guardian), but snooping on the personal communications of American citizens as well including 3 billion pieces of communications in March 2013. Further, the U.S. government has been storing this information, and its capacity to store and snoop are increasing every year. To make this worse, the Obama Administration has been in denial about its worldwide and domestic invasion of privacy, and U.S. politicians and social media companies are all taking cover and trying to blame someone else.

Invasion of privacy whether on this large scale or on a smaller scale amounts to an infringement of basic freedoms, because if you know that big brother is watching you, you may not say things you normally would, and thereby your freedom is reduced.

The danger of this large scale invasion of privacy is that foreigners and domestic citizens may be targeted for their political beliefs, and overtime people can be controlled by the authorities knowing what people think and what they do not think. In addition, information on citizens can be manipulated and taken out of context in order to control them and deny them their basic freedoms. 

Edward Snowden says that "what the [(U.S.) National Security Agency] is doing" is "an existential threat to democracy."

Existentialism refers to individual free will and individual responsibility. So a government which reduces privacy and thereby freedom, would reduce individual free will and responsibility as well. A people-based democracy (as opposed to pseudo democracies) is based on the idea that "government is for the people, by the people, and of the people." Or the people (as opposed to anyone else including elected officials) are the sovereign authority over political affairs. Therefore, the secretive and domestic National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance is a threat to the essence of democracy, the people (or existential threat).

Edward Snowden says that "the [U.S.] government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to." In other words, the U.S. government has breached a people-based democracy, by turning on the people itself via large scale surveillance, and the potential for targeting of innocent citizens and suppressing freedom of speech and assembly.

Edward Snowden goes on to say that "I don't want to live in a world where there is no privacy and therefore no room for intellectual exploration and creativity." Again Snowden refers to implications of large scale invasion of privacy on individuals freedoms. "My greatest fear from these disclosures", he says, "is that nothing will change... and it will lead to "turnkey tyranny".

Turnkey means a jailer, and tyranny means authoritarian rule based on injustice, arbitrariness, and cruelty. Turnkey tyranny refers to authoritarianism which utilizes imprisonment to control and oppress.

Snowden leak took the form of a 41-slide PowerPoint which he sent to the Guardian and Washington Post. Only 5 of those slides were published by those newspapers, which begs the questions as to why they did not publish all of the slides, and are these newspapers providing cover for the U.S. government?

The five slides which were published are as follows (the FDA cannot guarantee that they were not altered prior to being published):

The Snowden slide #1 shows the major surveillance operating system used by the National Security Agency (NSA): PRISM/US-984XN



This Snowden slide #2 shows the U.S. social media corporations involved in the NSA surveillance, and the types of communications targeted.



The Snowden slide #3 shows the international scope of the NSA surveillance.


The Snowden slide #4 shows the growth of the NSA surveillance through U.S. social media companies.


The Snowden slide #5 shows the two basic surveillance methods: direct collection from U.S. social media companies and indirect collection through the transfer of communications on fiber cables and infrastructure.







Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement





Monday, June 10, 2013

FDA Talking Points Series: Legislative Neutrality

The U.S. Congress and Senate determine federal legislation. The President has the power to veto Congressional bills. However, two-thirds of the House of Representatives and Senate can block a presidential veto. Currently, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are dominated by Republicans and Democrats. These legislative bodies determine U.S. federal election law despite the obvious bi-partisan conflict of interest. As of the 112th U.S. Congress, 98% of the Senate seats and 100% of the House of Representative seats are comprised of Republicans and Democrats.
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) takes the position that legislative neutrality is essential to a well-functioning and legitimate democracy. Legislative neutrality means that no political candidate or party is favoured by legislation which pertains directly or indirectly to all registered candidates and parties. Legislative bias is counter to the notion that the people are the sovereign political authority by increasing via legislation the influence of select minority groups (such as certain registered political parties) and decreasing the voice of the people. Democracy thrives in the most competitive electoral environment because people are given the most diverse and comprehensive choice. A biased electoral environment undermines the electoral competitiveness, and thereby election outcomes.

The legislative examples below derive from the FDA's most recent electoral fairness audit findings and measurements.

Examples of Legislative Neutrality

VENEZUELA

In Venezuela during the national election period, there are no restrictions on the freedom of the media, within the bounds of providing complete and balanced election coverage and not disseminating its own election propaganda. These restrictions ensure that private media companies are not imbalanced and narrow in their election coverage, and thereby do not favour some registered candidates and parties over other candidates and parties. The Venezuela media legislation is neutral because it applies to all registered parties and candidates, and it does not stop registered candidates and parties from informing freely the public of their platforms. The Venezuelan standard of complete and balanced coverage applies to public media as well.

Venezuelan political parties connected to private and/or public media are unable to take advantage of their media connections, barring illegal acts.

In Venezuela, unlike in Canada and the United States, the Venezuelan people have the opportunity to submit and repeal national legislation via referendum. In addition, the Venezuelan people have opportunity to recall any elected official including the Venezuelan president. Therefore, unlike in Canada or the United States, the Venezuelan people have sovereign authority over national legislation including election law.

Legislative Research

Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting the reality of the campaign. The media must observe "rigorous" balance in terms of space and time devoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81)

The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoral propaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations including ensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).

Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcast ads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012). Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).

The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimed at encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against a particular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).

Publications, radio stations, television stations and other official media may not be used by any political party for their propaganda (Election Law, Article 35).

The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political group or organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed, digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election Campaign Propaganda, 2012).

The Venezuelan government has four main independent branches of government: National Executive, National Assembly, Judiciary, and Citizen Power (represented by an ombudsmen office). The National Executive lead by the President and Vice-President is in charge of running the country; the National Assembly is the authority of national legislation; the judiciary led by the Supreme Court is authority on the Constitution and enforcing law, and the Ombudsman Office is in charge of protecting the people’s interests and rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Articles 72-74, 225-283, 347-350).

Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if the people in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered. Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transfer power to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of the President of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members of the Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voter registration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 73).

Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repeal existing laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of the registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).

Examples of Legislative Bias

UNITED STATES

In the United States at the federal level of government, during the campaign period there are no regulations of media election coverage. Unlike Venezuela, the U.S. lack of media regulation favours registered candidates and parties which are connected to private media, and the regulation deficiency may create an unequal playing field in terms of candidates and parties ability and means to inform the public.

The source of the U.S. legislative bias is an electoral process which favours major parties over all other parties, and the fact that the U.S. Congress and Executive, made up members from the two major parties, determine the federal election laws. In addition, the U.S. President appoints the Supreme Court justices who determine the constitutionality of U.S. laws. These bi-partisan processes are a conflict of interest on two counts: the determination laws and rules of elections and appointment of the justices who determine the constitutionality of these laws and rules, by the members of two parties in the elections. These processes are a default bias to the major parties, Republicans and Democrats.

Legislative Research

Any cost incurred in a news story, commentary, or editorial by media (broadcaster, press, web site, magazine, or other periodical) is not a political contribution if the media organization is not owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidates (Code of Federal Regulations, Section 100.29).

There is no legal requirement for equal opportunity for a newscast, interview, documentary (if the appearance of a candidate is incidental to the documentary's subject matter), or news event, including debates, political conventions and related incidental activities. Media has an obligation to present news in the "public interest" and "afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance" (Code of Federal Regulations, Section 100.29).

Any corporation or labor organization may donate funds to support a debate conducted by a nonprofit organization. The debate must not support or oppose any candidate or party, be sponsored by a broadcaster, newspaper, magazine, other circulation periodical publication, and include at least two candidates who meet face to face, does not promote one candidate over the other. In a primary election, organizations staging a debate may restrict candidates to those seeking nomination of one party, and in a general election may not use nomination of a particular party as the sole criterion for debate participants. Staging organizations must use preestablished objective criteria to determine participants (Code of Federal Regulations, Section 114.4(f)).

Electioneering communications are limited to paid programming and only apply to the 60 day period prior to a general election or the 30 day period before a primary election for federal office, including elections in which a candidate is unopposed (Code of Federal Regulations, Section 100.29).

Noncommercial educational broadcasting stations may support or oppose any candidate for office. This broadcast restriction does not apply to editorializing in the public interest (U.S. Code, Title 47: Telegraphs, Telephones, and Telegraphs, Section 399).

Media entities' online news content is not considered contributions or expenditures. The media exemptions apply to all bloggers and others who communicate on the internet unless the facility including website is owned or controlled by a political party, candidate or a political committee (Internet Communications and Activity, 2012).

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have legislative power; the President has the executive power of government; the judiciary has power cases involving the U.S. Constitution, laws, and treaties under its authority (U.S Constitution, 2012, Article I, Sections 1; Article II, Section 2; Article III, Section 2).

The President has the power to veto bills from the Congress and Senate, and the House of Representatives and Senate with two-thirds vote in each house have the power to overrule presidential vetoes (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Article I, Section 7, Clause 2).

Every bill must pass in the U.S House of Representatives and Senate to become law (U.S. Constitution, 2012, Article I, Section 7, Clause 2).


CANADA

In Canada at the federal level of government, public subsidies for political parties are determined based on a 2 percent and 5 percent popular support rules which favour large, established political parties over small and new parties. In addition, in Canada like the United States, there is minimal regulation of media during election periods, and therefore parties connected private and public media have a campaign advantage over parties less connected to media.

The source of Canada's legislative bias is the fact that the majority of the Members of Parliament determine Canada's federal legislation including election law. In addition, the Prime Minister appoints the federal justices who determine the constitutionality of federal legislation. These legislative processes are a conflict of interest and source of bias because the majority of Parliamentarians determine the laws and rules of the elections they participate in.

For Canada to move forward with legislative neutrality, these inherent legislative process biases need to be replaced with neutral processes such as a citizen committee representing a cross-section of Canadian society and all regions of the country determine the election laws. Alternatively, the elections laws could be determined through online direct democracy, in which the people determine the elections within the bounds of electoral fairness and neutrality for all registered political parties which are not frivolous and have at least 0.1 percent popular support. As it stands, Canada's electoral process is undermined by some parties deciding the laws and rules of this process. For more details findings and measurements on Canada's democracy, see the 2013 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Canada.

Legislative Research

The Chief Electoral Officer determines for each quarter an allowance payable to a registered party whose candidates received either 2 percent of the popular vote or 5 percent of the valid votes cast in the electoral districts of the candidates endorsed by the party in for the most recent general election (Elections Act, 435.01(1)(a)-(b)).

The quarterly allowance is the multiplication of the valid votes cast in the most recent general election by $0.3825 for 2012; $0.255 for 2013; and $0.1275 for 2014. All quarters begin on April 1st (Elections Act, 435.01(2)(a)-(c)).

The Conservative government revised the federal budget to phase out the public subsidies for federal political parties beginning April 1st 2012 (Smith, J, July 4, 2012).

The annual subsidy was lowered from $2.04 in 2011 to $1.53 per vote in 2012 and will be further reduced each year on April 1st until it is eliminated in 2015 (Smith, J, July 4 2012).

If a registered party receives 2 percent of the votes cast in the election or 5 percent of the number votes cast in the electoral district in which the part endorsed a candidate, then 50 percent of the parties’ electoral expenses are refunded (Elections Act, Article 435 (1)).

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) Act presents the regulations regarding political advertising and broadcasting during an election period. Broadcasters are required to cover Canadian elections and must give all candidates, parties and issues "equitable" coverage during the campaign period. Equitable does not imply equal, broadcasters must simply take "reasonable" steps to present the views and positions of all parties (Public Notice CRTC, 1988).

During the election period, broadcasters are responsible for informing the public about the central issues regarding the election, and should present the positions and platforms of candidates and parties relating to those issues (Public Notice CRTC, 1988).

These guidelines pertain to television broadcasters, radio stations, and specialty television services licensed by the CRTC. They do not apply to pay television services or internet communications; therefore, they are not obliged to provide time to political parties, but may do so (Broadcasting Guidelines, 2011).

Broadcasters are not required to include all parties or candidates in debate programs during the election campaign (Public Notice CRTC, 1988).

The Legislative branch is both the Senate and the House of Commons. This branch makes laws coming under the purview of the Federal government (Constitution Act, Section 91, 1867).

To become law a bill must be approved by both the Senate and the House of Commons, and then receive Royal Assent from the Governor General (Legislative Process, 2010).

The Prime Minister appoints the Supreme Court justices and other federal justices (Supreme Court Act, Section 4(2)).

The FDA auditors did not find legislation to mandate broad and balanced election coverage via a Code of Practice/Conduct for the media. Although many private press organizations and newspapers follow a Code of Practice and/or guidelines for conduct, none of these guidelines includes requirements for broad and balanced election coverage (2013 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Canada, 2013, Audit Findings on Code of Practice/Conduct).


References

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution. (2012). National Electoral Council. Retrieved from http://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/constitucion/indice.php

Broadcasting Guidelines. (2011, March 28). May 2, 2011 Federal General Election. The Broadcasting Arbitrator. Retrieved from Elections Canada http://www.elections.ca/abo/bra/bro/guidelines2011.pdf

Code of Federal Regulations. (2009, January 1). Federal Registry. Retrieved from http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/cfr_2009.pdf

Constitution Act. (1867, March 29). Retrieved from the Department of Justice http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-1.html

During the Election Campaign Propaganda. (2012). General Provisions. Chapter 1. Retrieved from the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa, Canada in pdf format.

Election Law. (2012). National Electoral Council. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_organica_procesos_electorales/indice.php

Elections Act. (2000, May 31). Elections Canada. Retrieved from http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=loi/fel/cea&document=part00&lang=e

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States. (2013). Revised. Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://democracychange.org/2013/04/2012-fda-electoral-fairness-report-on-the-united-states/

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Canada. (2013) Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://democracychange.org/2013/05/2013-fda-global-electoral-fairness-report-on-canada/

FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on Venezuela. (2013). Revised. Foundation for Democratic Advancement Retrieved from http://democracychange.org/2013/04/2012-fda-global-electoral-fairness-report-on-venezuela/

Garvey, S. (2013). FDA Talking Points Series: 0.5 Percent Rule. Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/04/fda-talking-points-series-05-percent.html

Internet Communications and Activity. (2012). Federal Election Commission. Retrieved from http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/internetcomm.shtml

Legislative Process. (2010, February). Canadian Parliament. Retrieved from http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/House/compendium/web-content/c_g_legislativeprocess-e.htm

Longley v. Canada (Attorney General). (2007, December 6) Ontario Court of Appeal 852 (CanLII). Retrieved from http://www.canlii.ca/en/on/onca/doc/2007/2007onca852/2007onca852.html

National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns. (2012). Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Washington, D.C. U.S.A.). Retrieved from http://venezuela-us.org/2012/08/31/national-electoral-council-investigates-campaigns/

Public Notice CRTC. (1988, September 2). CRTC. Retrieved from http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/1988/PB88-142.HTM

Smith, J. (2012, July 4, 2012). Parties Lose 186 Million In Per-Vote Allowance As Subsidy Dropped. Retrieved from http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/07/04/parties_lose_186_million_in_pervote_allowance_as_subsidy_dropped_25_per_cent.html

Supreme Court Act. (1985). Retrieved from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/S-26/page-1.html

U.S. Code. (2012). Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text

U.S. Constitution. (2012). Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/

Walser, R. (2012). The Chávez Plan to Steal Venezuela's Presidential Election: What Obama Should Do. September 19, 2012. The Heritage Foundation.







Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Canadian Democracy and the Way Forward

The 2011 Canadian Election robocall fraud, in which the Conservative Party of Canada was evolved in an "elaborate effort to conceal the identity of those accessing the database and arranging for the [robo]calls to be made" (2013 FC 525, p. 88), and the recent Duffy Expense Scandal in which a member or members of the Conservative Party attempted to cover-up Duffy's wrong-doing begs the questions, what else is the Conservative Party of Canada and current Canadian federal government covering up, and are these ethical shortcomings isolated to the Conservatives or symptomatic of deeper issues in the Canadian political system? The FDA podcast on Canadian democracy below suggest that Canadian politics is failing.
FDA Podcast: Excerpt from FDA Webinar on Canadian Democracy and the Way Forward

Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement, hosts the May 30, 2013 FDA Webinar on Canadian Democracy and the Way Forward. The Webinar is based on the 2013 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on the Canadian Federal Electoral System, in which Canada received an unsatisfactory overall score of 64.49 percent. The podcast contains an excerpt from the FDA Webinar, in which a participant with longtime Canadian political experience shares her thoughts on the political conundrum facing Canada, and the way forward. The participant believes that the Canadian political establishment is de-politicizing Canadians and that the Canadian political process is archaic and has lost all purpose and meaning. She proposes that the only way forward for Canadian democracy is for Canadians to politicize not just at elections but between elections through activating and supporting grassroots politics and social organizations including independent political candidates who are deeply invested in their communities and who have the better societal solutions than the typical politician. According to the excerpt, the predicament of Canadian politics has become so dire, the big party politicians themselves have lost any meaningful say due to the global economy and its influences, and the tight grip of large, established parties on their elected members. This podcast may be a wake up call to Canadians to activate against an irrational and destructive political system. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

The FDA next webinar "Media Freedom and Democracy" is on June 12, 2013.

FDA Webinar (June 12): Media Freedom and Democracy

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2013 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Canada