U.S. co­me­dian tweets NDP endorsement

Silverman backs Mul­cair po­si­tion on niqab while sup­port­ing B.C. can­di­date

Toronto Star - - ELECTION 2015 - BEN SPURR STAFF RE­PORTER

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.

TONY FELGUEIRAS/INVISION/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Amer­i­can co­me­dian Sarah Silverman, seen at TIFF last month, may have run afoul of Elec­tions Canada by tweet­ing an endorsement of the NDP.

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