antiTainment NEWS: Students Claim Michael Moore Broke Canadian Election Law – Pete Townshend Vs.  Moore

Did Michael Moore break Canadian election law when he urged Canadians not to vote for Stephen Harper? Ontario’s Campus Conservatives contend that Moore did break the law and they want to see him charged. 

Late last month, Moore spoke out against the Canadian Conservative Party and their leader Stephen Harper at a screening of “Fahrenheit 9/11” in Toronto. During his speech, Moore urged Canadians not to vote for Harper or the Conservatives.  

"Your election comes before ours, and it will be such a blow to those of us trying to get rid of Bush" if Harper wins.

"I've spent a lot of time trying to convince Americans that Canadians are smart people, and you're going to make me look really bad. I really need you to make sure that Mr. Harper does not take over,” Moore reportedly told the crowd of approximately 600 in attendance at the screening. 

Moore said Harper "has a big pair of scissors in his hands and wants to snip away at the social safety net that distinguishes you from us. The primary difference between Canadians and Americans is that you have a general basic ethic that says, 'We're all Canadians. We're all in the same boat, and if one of us doesn't have health care, we all suffer as a result of that. If one of us isn't helped when we hit upon hard times, then we all hurt as a result of that.'"

Moore said that the America ethic is "every man for himself. Me me me me me. To let people in your country to have that ethic take over and destroy that thing that makes you wonderfully Canadian is something that must be resisted on June 28 (The Election Day in Canada). "

Ontario’s Campus Conservatives feel that Moore’s words violated Canada Elections Act, specifically the “Non-interference by Foreigners” clause (Part 11, Division 9, section 331) which states: “No person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate unless the person is (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” 

The group is asking Canadians to sign a petition asking Canadian election officials to charge Moore. In that effort, a 21-year-old Queen's University student, Kasra Nejatian, president of Ontario's Campus Conservatives, has set up a website called ChargeMoore.com that contains a direct link to the online petition. According to the National Press, once Nejatian has enough signatures, he plans to file a formal complaint against Moore as well as present the petition to the commissioner of Canadian Elections. At press time 751 people had signed the online petition. 

If the Canadian government acts on the petition and files charges, Moore could face a $2,000 fine and/or six months in jail, if convicted. 

Nejatian told the National Press that if Elections Canada does not act on the complaint, he will challenge them in court. 

Pete Townshend Vs. Michael Moore

Moore also came under fire this week from Pete Townshend, lead guitarist of The Who. In the July 7th posting to his online diary, Townshend gives his side of the story about claims Moore made in the press about a controversy surrounding the use of the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in “Fahrenheit 9/11”.  

In an interview with Film Comment, Moore said, “Word came to us that [Townshend] is not a fan of Michael Moore's and in fact supports the war and supports Tony Blair and doesn't want the song used in any way that would make Blair look bad. Harvey [Weinstein] personally made an appeal to him to reconsider. And he wouldn't. . . . So, I remembered while I was driving in Michigan ‘Rockin' in the Free World’ came on the radio and I thought this would be a cool song to have in the movie.”

Townshend says that this is not true, the guitarist writes in his online diary, “Michael Moore has been making some claims – mentioning me by name - which I believe distort the truth.

“He says – among other things – that I refused to allow him to use my song WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN in his latest film, because I support the war, and that at the last minute I recanted, but he turned me down.”  

Townshend says that his publisher turned down the initial request to use the song in the film “because MIRAMAX the producers offered well below what the song normally commands for use in a movie. They asked me if I wanted to ask for more money, I told them no.”

Townshend them recounts the discussions between himself and his manager Bill Curbishley, and Curbishley and Miramax head Harvey Weinstein.  Curbishley and Weinstein wanted Townhend to reconsider letting the song appear in the film. 

Townshend writes, “Nevertheless, as a result of my refusal to consider the use, Harvey Weinstein – a good friend of mine, and my manager Bill Curbishley – interceded personally, explained in more detail to Bill what the movie was about, and offered to raise the bid very substantially indeed. This brought the issue directly to me for the first time. Bill emailed me and told me how keen Harvey and Michael Moore were to use my song. 

“At this point I emailed Bill (and he may have passed the essence of what I said to Harvey Weinstein) that I had not really been convinced by BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, and had been worried about its accuracy; it felt to me like a bullying film. Out of courtesy to Harvey I suggested that if he and Moore were determined to have me reconsider, I should at least get a chance to see a copy of the new film. I knew that with Cannes on the horizon, time was running short for them, and this might not be possible. I never received a copy of the film to view. At no time did I ask Moore or Miramax to reconsider anything. Once I had an idea what the film was about I was 90% certain my song was not right for them.”

 “I believe that in the same email to my publisher and manager that contained this request to see the film I pointed out that WGFA is not an unconditionally anti-war song, or a song for or against revolution. It actually questions the heart of democracy: we vote heartily for leaders who we subsequently always seem to find wanting.”  Townshend adds, “I suggested in the email that they might use something by Neil Young, who I knew had written several songs of a more precise political nature, and is as accessible as I am. Moore himself takes credit for this idea, and I have no idea whether my suggestion reached him, but it was the right thing to do.” 

Townshend concludes his diary entry with “I have nothing against Michael Moore personally, and I know Roger Daltrey is a friend and fan of his, but I greatly resent being bullied and slurred by him in interviews just because he didn’t get what he wanted from me. It seems to me that this aspect of his nature is not unlike that of the powerful and wilful[sic] man at the centre of his new documentary. I wish him all the best with the movie, which I know is popular, and which I still haven’t seen. But he’ll have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a guitar.”
Despite the controversy surrounding him, Moore continues to enjoy growing success brought on by his recent film, it has even earned him the cover of Time Magazine.  



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