Kasra Nejatian, Comm ’05, is asking Elections Canada to charge controversial filmmaker and U.S. citizen, Michael Moore.
Nejatian and his lawyer, Jonathan Denis, filed a formal complaint with Elections Canada last week regarding comments made by Moore while visiting Canada during the federal election campaign in June.
“Just because you are a socialist multimillionaire from the U.S. it doesn’t mean you get special treatment,” Nejatian said in an interview.
At a special Canadian opening of Moore’s documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, in Toronto on June 19, Moore told the audience that Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper would cut away at Canada’s social safety net if elected prime minister.
“I really need you to make sure that Mr. Harper does not take over,” Moore said.
Nejatian, who is the president of the Ontario Campus Conservatives, believes Moore violated Part 2, Division 9, Section 331 of the Canada Election Act.
The law states that anyone who isn’t a Canadian citizen or a person that resides in Canada can’t “during an election period, in any way, induce electors to vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.”
The law came into effect prior to the 2000 federal election.
If charged, Moore could face a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and six months in prison.
Nejatian is asking for the maximum penalty to be brought against Moore.
“I am perfectly willing to engage in a healthy political debate,” Nejatian said. “What I am not willing to do is engage in a battle which the law is only upheld for one side.”
An individual can’t charge a group or other individual under the Elections Act, but can file a complaint asking Elections Canada to press charges.
“The ball is in Elections Canada’s court now,” he said. “We handed them this case on a silver platter and we are hoping they are going to apply the law.”
Nejatian set up a website, chargemoore.com, shortly after the June election where he asks people to sign a petition asking Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, , to charge Moore.
As of Saturday, more than 3,500 people had signed the petition.
“It’s literally thousands of Canadians that are saying stop [Moore],” he said.
Nejatian wants to see Moore charged under this law but disagrees with laws that prohibit freedom of speech.
“I think [gag] laws should all be thrown out and the government should repeal every single law like this,” Nejatian said.
“But as long as they exist, they should not only apply to Canadians, they shouldn’t only apply to Conservatives, they shouldn’t only apply to Liberals, they should apply to everybody.”
Nejatian said he thinks the media coverage he has recieved is appropriate for a battle against Moore.
“I think Moore uses his press fairly wisely to promote his agenda,” he said. “So if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.”
Two weeks ago the mayor of Sarnia, Mike Bradley, who is featured in Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine, said he would make Moore an honorary citizen, thereby enabling him to avoid the charges.
— With files from
The Kingston Whig-Standard