BCCLA condemns Elections Canada for prosecuting ballot eaters

Three members of the Edmonton Edible Ballot Society will be in Edmonton Provincial Court tomorrow, January 11, 2002, to face charges under the Canada Elections Act of having destroyed their ballots in the last federal election with intent to influence the election. The trio were part of a group of over 100 protestors who ate their ballots to symbolize their refusal to participate in what they see as an illegitimate electoral process and to inspire discussion around more meaningful forms of participatory democracy. If convicted, the ballot eaters face a sentence of up to three years in jail or a fine of up to $3,000.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association supports the right of Marika Schwandt, Mike Hudema and Chad Blackburn to express their views about Canada’s electoral system in this novel way. Says Association President John Dixon, “The harsh and punitive actions of Elections Canada in seeking to prosecute these people, who have done nothing more than seek to express their opinions and spark debate on a matter of public importance, are incomprehensible and unjustifiable. These prosecutions are part of what we see as a disturbing trend to use prosecutorial and judicial processes to silence legitimate dissent.”

The BCCLA is confident that the ballot eaters will ultimately be vindicated in court and expresses the fervent hope that Elections Canada will have the good grace to eat their hats when they lose.