I grew up in the eastern older part of Canada where it was not unknown a few decades ago for things like truck loads of gravel and other public benefit being conferred on the loyal after a winning campaign. It was also not unknown for a mickey - or pint - of hard liquor to be placed in hands in return for the expectation of a vote. So it is with a somewhat wistful eye that I see that such days may be well and truly over at the far end of the country on Canada's left coast:
"Why should you vote?" read the poster, which bore the logo of the BC Liberal Party. "Meet Bill Bennett and grab a free beer on Bulldog's" it added, urging people to come by on May 5 at 8 p.m. so they could "learn how to vote" and "get the facts, not fiction." When reporters first asked [rival New Democratic Party leader Carole] James about the issue, she had yet to see the poster, but said she thought the concept was concerning. "That would certainly concern me," she said after hearing a description of the event. "It seems to me it would be against anything in the elections act. I'd want to take a look at it."
While I can appreciate the closing of bars on election day or banning the handing out of rum on the drive to the polling booth, this sort of reaction does seem to smack a bit of hypocrisy. Consider the likelihood of political receptions or fundraisers in wine-laden British Columbia this election where a glass of something red or white will be served. Consider also the likelihood that a a cheese tray or perhaps even those pricey warmed up snacks on sticks are on offer. Here is a Federal Green party... party with wine. Sure, it is not an election but does that really matter? And here is a cache of one candidate's website for a fundraiser where wine was offered. Here is another event called the Leader's Levee one where the BC NDP leader Carole James herself was in attendance last fall. Were the glasses and snacks handed to only those who paid more than the $125 to $150 to get in either the levee or the fundraiser?
Furthermore, do you care? Outside of getting the voters hammered on voting day, isn't this all a bit overwrought?