U.S. comedian tweets NDP endorsement
Silverman backs Mulcair position on niqab while supporting B.C. candidate
American comedian Sarah Silverman made an unexpected foray into Canadian politics on Sunday, when she praised NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and urged voters to support one of the party’s candidates in British Columbia. The New Democrats welcomed her endorsement, despite questions about whether she may have violated an obscure federal election law that prohibits foreigners from influencing how Canadians vote.
In a Twitter message sent Sunday morning, Silverman, a veteran actor and former Saturday Night Live cast member, appeared to back the NDP’s position on the niqab.
The Conservative party has sought to prohibit Muslim women from wearing the face covering during citizenship ceremonies, while the NDP believes women have the right to wear it. The issue has become one of the defining debates of this year’s election campaign.
“Kudos to @ThomasMulcair 4 supporting a woman’s right to wear what she wants w/out discrimination,” Silverman wrote. She also urged voters to cast their ballots for Mira Oreck, the NDP candidate in the Vancouver-Granville riding.
Mulcair responded by thanking Silverman in a Twitter message of his own. In an interview, Oreck also embraced the actor’s show of support.
“It was great,” Oreck said, adding that while she appreciated the celebrity spotlight, her “real interest” is in personally connecting with voters. According to Oreck, she and Silverman met during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, when the actor starred in a pro-Barack Obama Internet ad. Oreck was the co-creator of the spot, which racked up more than three million views on YouTube.
Oreck said the two aren’t close friends but they have kept in touch, though adding she had never asked Silverman for an endorsement.
Oreck said she didn’t believe Silverman had violated any election laws. “I think she’s entitled to tweet what she wants to tweet,” she said.
Section 331of the Canada Elections Act states that “no person who does not reside in Canada shall, during an election period, in any way induce electors to . . . vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate.”
Election officials contacted by the Star on Sunday could not immediately say whether a Twitter message would constitute an inducement.
Anyone who “wilfully contravenes” that section of the act can be punished by up to six months in prison, a maximum fine of $5,000 or both. However, it doesn’t appear there has ever been a conviction for a violation of that section of the law.
Erinn Broshko, the Conservative candidate for Vancouver-Granville, issued a statement criticizing the New Democrats for Silverman’s post.
“Unlike the NDP, we’re focused on engaging with Canadians who are living, working and raising their families in Vancouver-Granville,” Broshko said.
American comedian Sarah Silverman, seen at TIFF last month, may have run afoul of Elections Canada by tweeting an endorsement of the NDP.