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Third-Party Advertising and Electoral Democracy: The Political Theory of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Somerville v. Canada (Attorney General) [1996]


  • Herman Bakvis
  • Jennifer Smith


As the decision in Somerville v. Canada (Attorney General) [1996] indicates, the courts are continuing to prove hostile to the restrictions on third-party or independent spending that are set out in the Canada Elections Act. The difficulty is that these restrictions are part of a larger election-expenses regime that is designed to encourage fairness in the electoral competition between parties and candidates. Through an examination of the Somerville case, this paper argues that if the restrictions on third-party spending are eliminated, then the restrictions on parties and candidates are sure to fall as well, and Canadian elections will come to resemble an unregulated, free-for-all. Ironically, under these conditions the position of political parties may well be strengthened in relation to interest groups as the latter become conduits for campaign finance rather than active and visable participants in the electoral process.

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  • Herman Bakvis & Jennifer Smith, 1997. "Third-Party Advertising and Electoral Democracy: The Political Theory of the Alberta Court of Appeal in Somerville v. Canada (Attorney General) [1996]," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 23(2), pages 164-178, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:23:y:1997:i:2:p:164-178

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:89:y:1995:i:02:p:295-308_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:01:p:23-43_19 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. William Cross, 1994. "Regulating Independent Expenditures in Federal Elections," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 20(3), pages 253-264, September.
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