October 5, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Convoys “outside the CAQ” may contravene electoral law

Convoys "outside the CAQ" may contravene electoral law

Convoys to demonstrate in front of Francois Legault’s constituency office on October 1 may violate electoral law.

The “Dehors la CAQ” convoy, which looks like the “Freedom Convoy” last January, featured the outgoing prime minister riding in two days before the election, to condemn the handling of the pandemic by the Legault government.

“This type of incident is governed by the rules on the control of election expenses,” said Julie Saint-Arnaud Drolet, a spokeswoman for Elections Quebec, in an email, adding that the chief electoral officer (DGEQ) does not comment on specific cases. .

According to these rules only official agents and candidates of parties can bear election expenses. Citizens and businesses cannot inject money into the debate to influence the vote.

The DGEQ relies on three factors to determine whether an expense is considered an election expense, Ms. St-Arnaud Drolet explains.

First, the goods or services must have a cost. Then, the good or service must be used at the time of election.

Finally, the expenditure must be used to directly or indirectly promote or oppose the election of a candidate or party. “Even if the expenditure is used to fight the program of a particular political party or to reject the actions of a party, candidate or their supporters, it counts,” Ms. St-Arnaud Drolet said.

For example, if a group of citizens buys ads on social networks to influence a vote (this is not the case with a “convoy outside the CAQ”), that would be a violation under the Electoral Act. The same is true if signs or pamphlets are produced at a printer.

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In fact, in this case the making of posters without the use of experts can also be considered an election expense, because the material, whether it is paper, pencils or ink cartridges, has a cost, which we are told ultimately has a “”bias effect”.

Similarly, money paid for gasoline to travel to the venue of the demonstration may be considered an election expense within the meaning of the Act.

Reached by the QMI agency, the organizers of “convoys outside CAQ” refused to answer our questions.

The promotion of the event is mainly through social networks. Many Facebook pages are meant to invite people to participate in various convoys and many bloggers promote the event on their respective page.

Quebec’s Conservative Party, which has made handling the pandemic one of its main warhorses, assured Tuesday that it had nothing to do with the incident.