Be careful what colours you put on during an election campaign.
That’s the message that’s being heard after the Directeur général des élections du Québec fined the United Irish Societies of Montreal on Monday after an investigation showed that many of the activities during and around the St. Patrick’s Parade on March 16 were unfair free advertisement for the Green Party of Quebec during an election campaign.
Needless to say the UIS disagrees with the assessment, suggesting sarcastically that the DGE is trying to ban the colour green.
The truth is a bit muddier than that. The DGE’s decision states that slogans or signs that clearly indicate a link to Irish heritage are fine, but that signs that say things like “Think Green” and “Kiss Me I’m Green” could be misinterpreted as support for the Green Party, making them election expenses prohibited by the law.
The situation gets more complex because the investigation showed that Green Party activists were present at the parade handing out paraphernalia. Some was official, showing the name of the official agent and properly expensed. But some other stuff, including T-shirts that said “This St-Patrick’s, I’m Going Green” didn’t carry a party logo or the name of an official agent.
Two of the people found to be distributing the T-shirts denied that they were advocating in favour of a party. They said they were simply trying to get people to be more environmentally conscious.
The UIS, which is being fined because it allowed the distribution to happen during a parade it controlled, says it will appeal the fine, even though it’s of a nominal amount of $100.