NEWS: Students Claim Michael Moore Broke Canadian Election Law Pete Townshend
Did Michael Moore break Canadian election
law when he urged Canadians not to vote for Stephen Harper? Ontarios Campus
Conservatives contend that Moore did break the law and they want to see
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
"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). "
Ontarios Campus Conservatives feel that
Moores 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
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 Wont
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
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 WONT 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 didnt 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
havent seen. But hell 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.