Election Commissioner prosecuting Rebel News over Libranos book promotion set to resign next June

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Election Commissioner Yves Côté will resign next June after ten years in office. Côté is best known for awarding SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. a settlement over $117,803 in illegal campaign contributions, but prosecuting Rebel News Network Ltd. for a book promotion deemed too political, Blacklock’s Reporter writes.

“The Commissioner plays a key role in safeguarding Canadians’ trust in their democratic process,” Elections Canada wrote in a notice. The agency posted Côté’s job and said it “intends to appoint a Commissioner of Canada Elections for a ten year term” in 2022.

Côté is a former $204,000-a-year Assistant Deputy Minister of Justice, named Commissioner in 2012. The position is filled by appointment through the Chief Electoral Officer, not Parliament.

“We are committed to using all the tools at our disposal to enforce the legislation and to protect the integrity of the electoral process,” Côté told the Senate in 2018. However in a 2016 case the Commissioner waived prosecution of SNC-Lavalin Group for funnelling large contributions to political organizers in Québec in breach of the Canada Elections Act.

In a separate case, the Commissioner fined Rebel News Network over a book promotion he claimed was election advertising.

Rebel News last January 22 was fined $3,000 for using lawn signs to promote the 2019 launch of its book entitled The Libranos: What The Media Won’t Tell You About Justin Trudeau’s Corruption.

“The book’s launch two days before the beginning of a general election held at a fixed date, the decision to promote the book using lawn signs — a staple of election campaigns but not of book launches — statements by Rebel News and its director linking the signs to the election, and the advertising message’s content that clearly opposed a registered party and its leader give reasonable grounds to believe Rebel News carried out ‘election advertising,’” said the Notices Of Violation.

Rebel News appealed the fine to a federal judge. The case is still pending.

“The free exchange of political ideas is essential to a properly functioning democracy,” wrote Rebel News lawyers. “Free expression is valued above all as being instrumental to democratic governance. Political speech is the most valuable and protected type of expression.”

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