A report from the Centre for Research in Public Policy (CPRP) at the University of British Columbia found that, despite the ban on ads in the federal election campaign, Canadians continue to use adverts.
In fact, the report found that the vast majority of Canadians are still using advertisements, even as the Harper government is stepping up its campaign of “voter suppression.”
“The Harper government has made it clear that they’re not interested in the truth about who Canadians are voting for and why,” said Mark Johnson, executive director of the Centre.
“We’ve seen this throughout the campaign, and the Harper regime has done nothing to correct it.”
Johnson noted that, in a survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted last October, the majority of respondents reported that they have already seen advertisements on television, in print, online, or via the radio.
According to Johnson, “the Harper regime is using advertising to suppress Canadians and keep them from voting.”
He noted that the Harper campaign is “targeting Canadians with ads that are blatantly false, misleading, or deceptive.”
Johnson explained that the ads are being promoted as evidence of voter fraud, with the goal of persuading voters to vote for the Conservatives in the election.
“The ads are designed to intimidate, and sometimes to frighten, the Canadian public,” he said.
“But it’s just the beginning of the campaign to disenfranchise voters, to disenfranchised Canadians, to suppress their voices.”
Johnson pointed to a case in which one of the ads featured an elderly woman being told she was being attacked by a gunman who was threatening to kill her and her family.
Johnson explained the ad is “a textbook example of voter suppression.
It was designed to frightens the elderly woman and make her believe she is going to be attacked by some sort of violent assailant.
And yet, it was actually used by the Harper Government to discourage people from voting in this election.”
While many of the adverts featured in the report are in the public domain, Johnson said they still “don’t have a legal basis.”
Johnson said that because of the Harper Administration’s “precautionary principle,” the Conservatives are using the information to target voters who “are less likely to vote.”
Johnson told VICE News that “voters are less likely than people who are elderly or otherwise vulnerable to being harassed, to be intimidated, to experience violence at the polls.”
In addition to using ads to discourage voters from voting, the Harper Conservatives have also targeted those who “have already cast a ballot,” he noted.
Johnson noted “those who voted earlier in the campaign are also less likely now to vote because they’ve seen their vote count drop.”
The Harper government’s election ad campaign has also targeted people who “don