Thursday, April 14, 2011

Guelph Conservatives continue to try to exclude youth voters

It's really quite mind-boggling to think what must be going through the thinking processes of Guelph Conservative candidate Marty Burke's campaign team. First, they make a point of keeping members of the U of Guelph vote mob away from Harper's rally. Then, he failed to turn up at this week all-candidates debate at the university. And now, in a move that I find jaw-droppingly stupid, his agent is trying to exclude the 700 votes cast at a special advance ballot held at the university yesterday. According to the article in the Guelph Mercury, such special advance polls are routine to try to encourage voter turnout among segments of the population that often have lower participation rates. Certainly youth qualify, with a less than 40% turnout in the last election.

I hope this incident gets nation-wide coverage. The Conservative Party of Canada doesn't want students to vote, and will take special measures to exclude their ballots. This is absolutely reprehensible, and yet completely unsurprising in light of how this campaign has gone to date. For shame.

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At 9:26 pm, Anonymous Eamon said...

I just read an account of this, and it disturbs me. He tried to grab the ballot box, he touched an Elections Canada official, he made a big scene and another Tory staffer was videotaping the entire thing... THIS IS SICK. If this doesn't become national news then there is something VERY wrong. It disgusts me to think that I've actually hung out with the guy that apparently did this...

At 9:52 pm, Anonymous Nicholas Miniaci said...

You know, I hate to say it, but lately the activities of the Conservatives are seeming more and more undemocratic. Am I justified to feel a little anxiety towards our government?

Also, I was curious if you have had a chance to check out the websites "Sh*t Harper Did" ( ) and, a rather creative one,

A number of my friends have been circulating these throughout Facebook- I think it's a neat way to present information to people coming from a media ecology perspective!

At 10:01 pm, Blogger Matt said...

You're perfectly justified Nicholas. Indeed, this is part of a long-term strategy of stifling voices that don't agree with the Harper administration. You could go back to shutting down the court challenges program, cancelling the long-form census, firing or silencing bureaucrats and agency heads who criticize the administration. It's very scary, and a clear indication of why Harper should never be trusted with a majority.

At 10:09 pm, Anonymous Nicholas Miniaci said...

Now going back to Canadian history, how do you reckon the Harper administration will be discussed in academic circles and taught to wider audiences? Will these events be censored from mainstream scholarship, or could this be a really interesting, controversial number of years in Canada? I first became very alarmed with the G20 events: I used to be more vocal about my views, but when a few of my friends were arrested, beaten, or were connected to under-cover police living in their houses in Guelph leading up to the riots, I was terrified. I heavily monitored my online activities (again, mainly Facebook) and disassociated myself with particular individuals. The only activism I par-take on campus is the Queer resource and awareness group (SpeakOUT) that I coordinate through the Wellness Centre.

I'm interested to look back in a few years and see if my reactions were rational or not. I just feel that as a youth with opinions, I am viewed with concept and suspicion.

At 10:11 pm, Anonymous Nicholas Miniaci said...

* contempt

At 10:21 pm, Blogger Matt said...

Never you fear, it will show up in the mainstream scholarship, and at least part of it will paint Harper's administration in a very unflattering light. (There will always be those who view things differently.) There is a very active cohort of scholars, for example, who work on issues related to social movements, the RCMP and state surveillance who are keeping a close eye on these issues. Authors including Gary Kinsman, Patrizia Gentile, Reg Whitaker, Steve Hewitt, Marcel Martel and many others keep publishing on the history of state surveillance and social movements, to give but one example of where you already see this type of material.

I wouldn't allow the actions of our government to scare you into relative silence. Just be careful how you engage with state authorities, and make sure friends and allies are aware of what you are up to.

At 10:41 pm, Anonymous Nicholas Miniaci said...

Thank you! I'll definitely keep that advise with me. While those events made me wish I could hide my views, it also created a reverse desire to bring about awareness. It's certainly been a giant life lesson- if only I kept a diary of the last two years.

Its also been exposure to material I'd like to engage in once I'm done my undergrad. I'm leaning towards doing research on the influence of new media on South African, Australian, and Kiwi societies in the 20th century and how their governments and advertisers constructed images of national identity. Much corruption and controversy arises in this topic, and indeed some of it is still perpetuated. Similarly, I'm interested in using this perspective of analyzing the influence of media in modern-day Germany and how it affects the integration and acceptance of its Turkish and other minority populations.

Obviously they are different animals then what we're talking about, but again they both involve government and corporate interventions and control. To be unoriginal, taking the "demo" out of "democracy". Let's see how much access I get to their archives!


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