A05(a) - Canadian Elections and Law
Date: Jun 4 | Time: 01:30pm to 03:00pm | Location: SCRF 1021
Chair/Président/Présidente : Sevi Semra (Université de Montréal )
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Alex Marland (Memorial University)
Voter Data, Privacy, and the Ontario 2018 Election: Anna Esselment (University of Waterloo)
Abstract: The Ontario 2018 election was one of the first campaigns in Canada since the news broke about Cambridge Analytica and the illicit mining of Facebook profile data for political purposes in the US and UK. While parties have long stored information about voters in their databases, the extent of the nefarious scrapping of social media data to actually target voters for persuasion and mobilization has raised the ire of citizens and their representatives alike. This paper analyzes LISPOP survey data from the recent Ontario election that asks respondents about their views on social media data, privacy, and voter targeting by political parties. Despite the fervour surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal, were Ontarians concerned about the use of the personal data in the provincial election? Do they trust parties to at least keep their data safe? The degree to which Ontarians feel strongly about the impact of "big data" and information management in campaigns matters, since it could result in legislative demands for more extensive protection from the use of personal data by political parties.
Election Law in the Digital Era: Rethinking the Regulatory Regime: Lisa Young (University of Calgary)
Abstract: Over the past five decades, established democracies have developed extensive regulatory regimes governing the conduct of electoral competition. Grounded in the values of transparency and fairness, but tempered by rights-based notions of freedom of speech, association and democratic participation, these regimes have imposed a steadily expanding set of requirements and limitations on candidates, political parties and other involved entities (notably broadcasters). Both digital communications and globalization posed gradual challenges to these regimes since the 1990s, resulting in modest reforms that did not require reconsideration of the underlying values or objectives of the regulatory regime. Recent revelations relating to the Brexit referendum, the 2016 US Presidential election, and the concerted Russian campaign to interfere in democratic elections in various European democracies raise the question of whether the current regulatory regimes are adequate. Focusing on Canada, this paper will identify the core values and objectives of the regulatory regime that has evolved since the 1970s, and ask the question of whether the twin challenges of digital communications and globalization demand a reconceptualization. If resources and regulatory energy are finite, should objectives of protecting national sovereignty, protecting voter privacy and limiting misinformation and manipulation replace current regulatory preoccupations, or can they be integrated into the existing regime?
Losing Elections for Standing for your Values? The Electoral Consequences of a Court Ruling on the Niqab Ban in Canada: Aengus Bridgman (McGill University), Costin Ciobanu (McGill University)
Abstract: Immigration and integration-based concerns have heavily influenced politics across the developed world in recent years. While positions on race and immigration have generally been front and center during political contests, the 2015 Canadian federal election saw immigration and religious accommodation only emerge as an important issue towards the end of the campaign period. An unexpected, important court ruling two weeks before the election provided an exogenous shock to the campaign that increased the salience of the immigration/integration issue and had a measurable impact on support for the NDP, the only federal party to take a clear position against a niqab ban. We identify the causal effect of this shock through two empirical strategies. First, we leverage the rolling cross-section design of the 2015 Canadian Election Study and, in a difference-in-difference before- and after setting, we estimate the causal effect of the court decision and of the NDP position; second, we also use synthetic control method to build a counterfactual of the NDP support had the court ruling not happened and compare it to the actual evolution of the party in the polls, all while controlling for other campaign shocks. We show that the convergence between the Conservatives owning the niqab issue, the court decision and the NDP stance hurt NDP support (especially in Quebec), but did not help the Conservatives in a close three-way race that also involved the centrist Liberals. Our paper contributes to the literature on campaign effects and to the religious symbols, race and immigration literature.