Harper’s not the only one with allies down south. Photo By Avaaz.org
In this election more than any other, the Internet is opening up the democratic process to Canadian bloggers. Regrettably, it's also allowing for sinister foreign interference.
Well, avaaz.org, a not-for-profit progressive fundraising site run from deep in the bowels of Manhattan, is hardly sinister. It's a joint project of two major American organizations, the leftist site moveon.org and the religion-boosting therespublica.org, as well as the Australian getup.org.au.
Moveon.org is, of course, a favoured recipient of money from left-leaning American billionaire George Soros.
The site is taking on the commendable goal of unseating three Conservative MPs, some of whom are Canada's worst - pugnacious do-nothing environment minister John Baird, flirtatious-to-save-his-job Nova Scotian hunk Peter MacKay and little-known BC Conservative Randy Kamp.
With advertising planned in each riding, avaaz.org aims to unite the progressive vote behind the Liberal, Green and NDP candidates to defeat Conservatives.
In four days, the site raised approximately $100,000, an astounding amount by international standards, let alone Canadian ones.
(avaaz.org, which wouldn't respond to an interview request, has given no assurances that this money is coming from Canadian pockets.)
But by its own admission, avaaz.org doesn't have anyone on the ground in Canada. The site proudly lists offices in Rio de Janeiro, Geneva, New York, London and Washington, DC, but none in the country where it hopes to effect change.
Site administrator Ricken Patel is the lone Canadian listed on the site, but he lives in New York and has been enrolled at Harvard University since at least the 1990s.
Avaaz.org is also a third-party campaigner, and one that isn't registered with Elections Canada. Like Newfoundland premier Danny Williams's anythingbutconservative.ca, avaaz.org is required to reveal itself as a third party - neither a candidate nor political party - before the election.
Aside from a swirl of legal issues, though, is the nagging problem of Canadian sovereignty.
Avaaz.org is effectively a wealthy, foreign-controlled group trying to influence a Canadian election. The fact that the organization is progressive is mere happenstance. It could've easily been an ugly Republican lobby with the goal of propping up Canada's Conservatives.
Whatever the politics, allowing foreign muscle into a Canadian election is problematic, to say the least.