Joe Volpe, one of the leading contenders for leadership in Canada's Liberal Party (and thus a potential Prime Minister), was not amused by a new internet site entitled www.YouthForVolpe.ca
. The site was created to poke fun at and satirize the revelation that two major political donors to Volpe's campaign turned out to be 11-year old twin brothers, children of someone who tried to squeeze out the maximum family campaign contribution possible.
The legality of such a contribution is in serious question, of course, and worthy of spoofing.
But Volpe, as detailed in a post by Stephen Taylor
, called his buddies at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority and had them shut the site down. In an amazing demonstration of chutzpah, a Volpe spokesman emailed out this unabashed declaration of "victory" over political opposition:
My Office has had the website suspended through CIRA [Canadian Internet Registration Authority] and CDNS [Canadian Domain Name Services] and it will be down as soon as 6 p.m. I think the issue with the website has been dealt with. . . .
Here in the United States such a thing would be, of course, unthinkable . . . or would it?
Recent Congressional legislation attempting to regulate political content on the internet came dangerously close to putting a stranglehold on the very sort of "free speech" that just got throttled in Canada today.
Those in power, or who seek power, will always be tempted to use their influence to crush and disable those who threaten their ambitions.
It is particularly troubling when someone like a Joe Volpe not only acts out that temptation, sees nothing wrong in doing it and, heaven forbid, gets away with it!
It is my hope that those who might otherwise have supported Volpe will see that his approach to the political process poses a threat to everybody in Canada, Liberals as well as their Conservative rivals, and will abandon him like rats fleeing a sinking ship.
I could not resist sending him an email of my own:
Mr. Volpe, Be glad you are Canadian. If you attempted to pull this kind of bad political sportsmanship in the United States you would be blogged into well-deserved oblivion. No doubt your fellow countrymen will find the American model of political dismemberment worthy of imitation. Sincerely, . . .
Thank God we have a Bill of Rights that stands between us and an American Volpe wannabe.
Even so, given that the U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that the government can seize your property and turn it over to a private company we should not be so ignorant as to believe that they might someday rule that our "free speech" can be "seized" as well. We will do well to keep vigilant. After all, Canada is not that far away. Today, in fact, it appears to be too close for comfort!