Election Reform - Truth in Politics

Why is it a crime to commit perjury in a Canadian court of law, but not in political campaigns? Why do we value evidence-based reasoning less when we select our political leaders, than we do in a court of law? For that matter, if someone advertises a product or service, they must confirm to Canadian Competition and Regulatory Law, but these standards do not seem to apply to politicians, their surrogates, or campaigns during an election cycle; nor are Governments bound by them after an election. In this age of post-truth, fake news, and deceptive rhetoric, should we not protect effective democracy by standards of evidence-based reasoning. Does the electorate not deserve the opportunity to employ critical thinking free of deception? We have extensive policy on evidence based reason in law, so why can't we extend that to constrain our political processes as well?


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  • Eric Kolotyluk
    commented 2017-03-15 15:37:31 -0700
    There may be a way to enforce this without relying on the legal system, but that would likely take up more effort to design and implement. By re-purposing existing legislation and legal processes, it would be much quicker and easier to design and implement. After such a system is in place, then we could have a better sense of the costs, and whether it is worth the effort to improve the design to make it less costly.

    While cost is an important consideration, it should not be the only or most important consideration. For example, in Canada we continue to support the relatively costly paper ballots in elections. This is because, no one has yet devised a more secure method of protecting voting integrity than human being from each party looking at the same ballots and agreeing what the voter intended. In places like the US, they have many automated voting machines (because of cost concerns), and these have long remained controversial because of errors and tampering. For example, recently the US government abolished the agency who’s job it was to ensure voting machines are not tampered with. By comparison with the US, Canada has many fewer incidents of voting irregularities, where Canadians have better assurance at the veracity of our elections.
  • Jan Slakov
    commented 2017-03-09 08:46:42 -0800
    I wonder if there is a way to enforce this without relying on the legal system, which is so expensive.
  • Eric Kolotyluk
    commented 2017-02-23 17:06:56 -0800
    Who becomes the arbiter of this “evidence?” The simple answer is the courts. Within the court, the judge is the arbiter. While a jury may make the final judgement, the judge is there to arbitrate between lawyers evidence/arugments for each side, according to well established rules. For example, in a case of false advertising, someone might bring suit against the advertiser, and the matter would be settled in a court of law. If the advertiser was found guilty of violating the standards of Canadian Competition and Regulatory Law, there would be penalties.

    If we extended Canadian Competition and Regulatory Law to include political campaigns, and even government claims, let’s imagine how that might unfold. For example, when the Liberal Party of British Columbia claims they have balanced the budget, other parties might bring suit in that the budget is not actually balanced by demonstrating that creative accounting only superficially supports the illusion of a balanced budget, where the actual fact indicate funds were borrowed or stolen from other places. The penalty might range from a monetary fine to the person/party making the claim, ranging to withdrawal from the campaign or office.

    I think is it impossible to expect an individual or group to think critically, especially in the contemporary case of complicated issues, post-truth, fake news, etc. A key ingredient in critical thinking is ensuring the premises are true in any argument or line of reasoning.

    Imagine a court of law where there was no judge, where there were no rules of evidence, no findings of perjury; just lawyers and a jury. The result would not be justice, it would simply be politics.
  • Lukas Reynolds
    commented 2017-02-23 15:33:57 -0800
    While I agree with the general sentiment of idea, the problem is who becomes the arbiter of this “evidence”.

    It is the similar problem that the media is currently having. Whether it is sources purposefully spreading fake information, accidentally spreading fake information, partial truths, bias, or using any number of logical fallacies, the end result is the same and that is a loss of credibility and a misinformed populus.

    I don’t think that the answer is to try and appoint an arbiter of truth, but rather to work as an individual or group to think critically, fact check and to hold those in power to account, whether we agree with them or not and regardless of ideology.

    There are many platforms for a politician to get a good factual message out to the public, they just have to use them.
  • Eric Kolotyluk
    published this page in Make a suggestion 2017-02-16 23:22:14 -0800
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