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John Oliver Tells Canadians How to Vote, Then Dares Them to Arrest Him

John Oliver explicitly told Canadians not to vote for Stephen Harper last night, but he technically wasn’t “inducing” votes and therefore won’t be punished under an obscure Canadian law.
October 19, 2015, 8:45pm
screen shot of Last Week with John Oliver

John Oliver explicitly told Canadians not to vote for Stephen Harper last night, but he technically wasn't "inducing" votes and therefore won't be punished under an obscure law that's supposed to stop foreigners from influencing the election.

Not that he was the least bit concerned about that in the first place.

On the eve of the Canadian election, the Last Week Tonight host delivered a scathing summary of the 78-day-long campaign to Americans, explaining that they should care about this election because seeing Canada re-elect Stephen Harper would be akin to seeing your next-door neighbor start dating "a complete and utter dickhead."

Harper is the guy she "won't split up with despite the fact he tells her what to wear and makes her listen to his shitty, shitty band," Oliver said, capping the segment off by throwing $5,000 — the maximum fine for breaking the law in question — into the air and essentially daring Canadian police to arrest him.

According to the Canada Elections Act, people who don't live in Canada — unless they're a citizen or permanent resident — can't "induce" electors to vote in any particular way. The penalty for breaking the law is a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail.

"That is a ridiculous law," said Oliver. "You think I'm scared of six months in a Canadian prison? What's that — six months of living in Ottawa? As for your $5,000 fine, I simply can't imagine a better way to spend 5,000 Canadian dollars."

**Related: **Final Election Poll Shows Canada's Liberal Party Could Win a Majority

"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," he said, going on to do so in the "most Canadian way possible" — bringing out Mike Myers riding a snow plow while dressed as a Mountie, a beaver playing "Sweet Caroline" on a keyboard, and a moose getting a free colonoscopy "under Canada's fantastic single-payer health care system."

"The expression of personal political views by Canadians or non-Canadians as to which candidate they support is not an offence under the Act," Elections Canada told VICE News.

Before he got to making fun of the law, however, Oliver highlighted some of the key characters and issues of the election to Americans unfamiliar with the events of the campaign, one of the most dramatic in recent memory.

Candidates who were dropped by their respective parties, among them, one who was caught on camera peeing into a cup at someone's house, and another who didn't know what Auschwitz was, were featured in Oliver's pre-election Canadian politics primer.

The host also introduced his audience to each of the federal party leaders, mocking Tom Mulcair for looking like "Paul Giamatti's uncle reading a rhyming dictionary" as he tried out his "health care, child care, pharma care, Mulcair" slogan, laughing at Justin Trudeau's past fashion choices, and making fun of Harper's inability to appear relatable and a clip of the prime minister playing with his band, the Van Cats.

**Related: **Canada's Medical Weed Industry Braces for Legalization if Liberals Win Election

The 42nd election campaign, brutally long by Canadian standards but significantly shorter than most American elections, has been wrought with scandals, and Oliver's 15-minute segment touched on a small number of them.

Everything still isn't smooth sailing as Canadians head to the polls today, with reports of pre-marked ballots being given to voters, polls opening late, mobile polling stations closing early, and voters being turned away for not having proper ID.

Former lawyer for the Prime Minister's Office Ben Perrin also made headlines today after saying that he'd "voted in an advance poll for change."

"As a lifelong conservative I never thought that would happen. But after what I've personally seen and experienced, there was no other choice," he said in a statement. "The current government has lost its moral authority to govern."

Catch full election coverage on Daily VICE's live stream at 7:30 EST here and on VICE News once a winner is declared.

Follow Tamara Khandaker on Twitter: @anima_tk