July 14 2004
Come back to Sarnia, Mike
Mayor seeks citizenship for filmmaker
Criticizes Elections Act prosecution bid
If Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley has his way, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore will soon be an honorary citizen of his town.
Bradley has offered Moore the key to his city in an attempt to stave off what he believes would be a "frivolous abuse" of the elections law by a group of young Ontario Conservatives.
A Queen's University student and president of the Ontario Campus Conservatives has launched a Web site and online petition calling on Elections Canada to charge Moore with interfering in the recent federal election. When Moore was in Toronto during the election, promoting his film Fahrenheit 9/11, he urged Canadians to rally against Conservative leader Stephen Harper.
According to the Canada Elections Act, it is an offence for anyone who is not a Canadian citizen and does not live in Canada to "in any way induce electors to vote or refrain from voting or vote or refrain from voting for a particular candidate" during an election period.
So Bradley, not short on creativity or humour, wants to make Moore a "de-facto Canadian" with all the rights and privileges that come with citizenship. And he's written to Canada's chief electoral officer advising him of his offer.
"Making him a honorary Canadian will give him the right to whine, bitch, moan, complain about taxation and the high level of taxes and then move forward and pay his tax bill and vote for the government in power," he wrote in his cheeky letter to chief electoral officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley. "While we do not have equality with the value of our dollar with the United States, we certainly have equality with the right wing and their stupidity," he wrote. "It was always amazing to me that a group of individuals who promoted and believed in free trade do not believe in the freedom of ideas and political opinion."
Bradley's invitation to Moore may well be tongue-in-cheek, but it is not surprising from the man who once tried to have Lake Chipican, a tiny lake near Lake Huron, designated as another Great Lake.
The 48-year-old Sarnia mayor admits he has a soft spot for Moore. Bradley briefly appeared in Moore's Bowling for Columbine, comparing Canadian and American society.
"Basically I said what a good society does for its citizens and that you give them a chance to succeed," Bradley said in an interview yesterday. "He called me the voice of reason," he said, chuckling. "No one has ever called me that in the 20 years I've been in politics."
But Sarnia's mayor insists his sarcastic and humorous note to Elections Canada and his offer to Moore is sincere. "This is a frivolous abuse of the Elections Canada process to try to persecute and prosecute Michael Moore," said Bradley who has also faxed a copy of his letter to one of Moore's associates to give to the documentary maker.
Whatever Elections Canada does, Bradley hopes Moore accepts. "I'd be delighted if he wanted to come to Sarnia and we could screen Bowling and Fahrenheit 9/11. We're a border city and we're very sensitive to the new climate in the U.S."
Moore could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Elections Canada — in an unintentional parody seemingly right out of a Michael Moore film — would not "confirm or deny the existence of any complaint or investigation" into the filmmaker.
Bradley also took a shot at the federal Liberals, parodying a famous quote by homespun American humorist Will Rogers. "I do not belong to an organized political party — I am a federal Liberal, " he concluded in his letter to Kingsley.