Free Speech Suspended January 23

The CBC is reporting that the Canadian press will not be permitted to announce poll results in areas where polls remain open. This means that the press will not be allowed to announce Atlantic Canada’s poll results across the country until the polls close in British Columbia.

The press is also banned from reporting on poll results on the internet or on national television or radio until polls are closed across the country. The press took it upon themselves to take the publication ban to the Supreme Court, but they were shot down today.

Personally, I don’t see why it would be a problem to announce election results as they come in across the country. People get to see polls every day – why not let them see the big one?

I feel a debate thread coming on…


  1. This isn’t new though is it? Wasn’t that always the rule?

    The idea is that you don’t want to risk influencing people’s votes because of what they see happening out East. I don’t really have strong feelings one way or another though, so no debate from me.

  2. Given that, then, wouldn’t you say the title “Free Speech Suspended” is, perhaps, a tad overblown? Kind of misleading, even, and lacking context? The sort of thing that this site constantly accuses major media outlets of doing?

    Just some food for thought.


  3. “This means that the press will not be allowed to announce Atlantic Canada’s poll results across the country until the polls close in British Columbia.”

    Actually, it just means that they can’t report the Atlantic Canada results in BC until the polls close there. They can report them in each time zone as the polls close in them – I think.

    I have to agree with Morgan here, JK. I’m afraid you oversold this one a bit. In the strictest sense, free speech has been limited, but there’s an alarmist tone to the headline that I don’t think is justified.

  4. Joe is technically correct. The law does allow for news organizations to announce polls from one time zone as the polls close in another time zone. I’m not sure if there is a case of this happening, because I can’t think of a medium that would allow this.

    CBC National news, for example, could not report on any polls until the polls in BC close (they can’t isolate their broadcast in Quebec from their Alberta views – CBC National airs across the country all the time…)

    I suppose the CBC could inform local stations only broadcasting local feeds of the polls as they come in, but I doubt they would break from national coverage to do this.

    Newspapers are, of course, out because they don’t print until the next day. Maybe Rogers or Standard Radio will have live election coverage, but I kind of doubt that too.

    So while it’s technically possible, it’s unlikely.

    I was going to comment on the headline, etc. but I’m going to leave it be. I don’t think it’s misleading or lacking context (free speech is actually, really, honestly suspended Jan 23 – in one sense, at least), as MR claims, though I do see Joe’s point that it could be a bit alarmist.

    In defense of that, I’m putting my name and opinion below it. Then, I suggested a debate thread. Opinion headlines differ from news headlines, and, as the introduction to this site says, “this is not intended to be an impartial recounting of the daily news.”

  5. I’m a bit confused by your comments about the CBC. Are you talking about The National or are you talking about radio?

    From what I remember of CBC coverage, they go live on the air in each time zone as the polls close, with Pete Mansbridge saying “we now welcome our viewers in the central time zone; we can tell you that thus far, the Liberals . . . blah. . . blah.”

    For that reason, I’m interested to see what role digital cable will play this time. Thanks to Rogers and their TimeShifting (TM)(R)(C), I get CBC from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and all kinds of points West. Will they be able to blackout those feeds?

    As for your defence of your headline, you eat poop. So there.

  6. Firstly, if it was good for me once, it is good for me a second time. So there.

    Secondly – I think you’re right about CBC Newsworld going live with results in each time zone as they become available. CBC shows local programming until the polls close and then switch over to the National feed.

    I guess Rogers would have to black out those channels as part of the Supreme Court ruling. Global also has channels from across the country that I can access and I think Shaw (out West) might be responsible for making sure I’m not voting Green because everyone East of me Green but because I can’t bring myself to vote for the nutjobs that are leading the other major parties.

    Hypothetically, I mean.

  7. And I think I’ll jump in here

    The polls will be closing across the country at different times but seem to bias Central Canada.
    The polls for example close at 7:30 eastern time or 8:30 local time and In B.C. they close at 10:00 P.M. Eastern time or 7:00 local time. In central Canada everywhere from Quebec to the praries the polls close at 9:30. To me it seems that the time the polls close is most convienent to Central Canadians and screws people in B.C. (Hey, If a guy from Toronto notices there must be something to it. )

    This is done in part so the results of the election can be known before newspapers in Central Canada. (read; Toronto)

    Know I am all for more free speech and generally despise any attempt by governments to censor the press. The goal of the free press is to foster democracy, but I think in a country as vast as Canada reporting poll results before the polls are closed is bad for democracy. With time shifting, satelite television and the internet it is likely to become more technically impossible to keep poll results secret until all the polls are closed.
    Being that we know voter turnout can and has been affected by television coverage, isn’t this the kind of sacrifice the media should be willing to make?

    Also Jacques your headlines was a bit much, although, I still love you.

  8. An interesting sidenote to this conversation – what about blogs?

    How will Elections Canada be able to monitor blogs across the country? Blogs written by major newspaper writers will of course be self-censored to comply with EC regs. But individual bloggers will likely post results as soon as they become available…

    If one was really interested in how Atlantic Canada was voting, I’m sure one could find out…

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