by Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press October 19, 2015 5:11 PM ET
YouTube’But if telling you not to vote for Stephen Harper is going to cost me $5,000 I’m going to get my money’s worth. And I’m going to do it in the most Canadian way possible’
The comedian devoted a segment to Canada’s election on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, which culminated in mockery of a law forbidding foreigners from influencing Canadian elections.
He ridiculed its maximum six-month prison penalty and $5,000 fine. Oliver’s seeming desire to fight the re-election of Stephen Harper was apparently so great that he was willing to risk it all, tossing money at the camera and practically daring Canada to arrest him.
“That is a ridiculous law,” the British-born comic said in a segment that aired Sunday on the American network.
“But if telling you not to vote for Stephen Harper is going to cost me $5,000 I’m going to get my money’s worth. And I’m going to do it in the most Canadian way possible.”
With that, Canadian-born comedian Mike Myers rolled in on a snowplow, while a beaver played the piano next to a moose apparently getting a free colonoscopy under Canada’s medicare system.
They flung bills at the screen and urged Canadians to give Harper the boot.
The good news, for Oliver: he need not fear being sent to the slammer. The law he made fun of is actually not all that different from the U.S. ban on foreign political donations, although that country’s politics has hundreds of millions of harder-to-track dollars sloshing around in political-action committees.
HBOMike Myers was Oliver’s special guest, riding in on a snowplow as one of Canada’s “favourite sons”.
Canadian elections authorities explained Monday that there’s no law against foreigners expressing an opinion. They said the legal provision in question — section 331 of the Canada Elections Act — has been on the books since the 1920s and it doesn’t cover people stating their view.
“The expression of personal political views by Canadians or non-Canadians as to which parties or candidates they support is not an offence under the Act,” said Elections Canada spokesman John Enright.
“This also applies to Mr. Oliver.”
He said the key provision refers to people who “induce” Canadians: “To induce there must be a tangible thing offered. A personal view is not inducement,” he added.
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