Proposed changes to Canada’s election act have me pondering. Pierre Poilievre, at 34, Canada’s youngest cabinet minister and Minister of State for Democratic Reform is driving “Fair Election” reform through the House of Commons. His motto “sharper teeth, longer reach and a freer hand” is supposed to put Canadians at ease over his plan to squash the authority of Elections Canada and reduce voter fraud.
Call me cynical but I find his timing curious. As support grows for Liberal leader Justin Trudeau – especially among students, minorities, and the poor – what better way to limit their votes while bolstering advantages for the wealthy, than to disallow “vouching” and muzzle Elections Canada.
Vouching – much as it sounds is a system enabling those without proper ID, or proof of residence to vote.As it stands now, roughly 1% of voters had someone “vouch” for them in the last federal election. For the most part students and people who recently moved – those able to verify identity but not address. If Bill C-23 (Fair Election Act) passes – vouching is history.
I have less problem with vouching than this bat shit piece of logic – Poilievre openly criticizes Elections Canada for failing to boost voter turnout. If passed, C-23 puts an end to those voter registration cards we get in the mail – the ones with our address telling us where our polling station is. It would restrict Elections Canada from any “get out and vote” ads, they could only advertise when the election is taking place – our government believes it is up to political parties to drive voters to the polls.
It gets better – the Conservative government’s “tackle fraud” mandate is hilarious. Returning officers and poll clerks would be elected by political parties – the party with highest number of votes in the previous election, given the right to “recommend” central poll supervisors. Election Canada’s repeated attempts for jurisdiction to obtain court orders when investigating questionable election funding or practices – not happening with C-23.
A few more nuggets – post election, political parties would be handed lists gathered at each polling station – that same list of registered voters polling clerks have you sign before casting a ballot – political parties pouring over names and addresses of who did or didn’t vote. “Robo-calling” companies and those who hire them would have to keep recordings of calls and when they were made for one year – when the Chief Electoral Officer insisted records of numbers called be included in the legislation – Poilievre scoffed “that would be an invasion of privacy”. Holy crap.
Third party advertising restrictions, convoluted wording in favor of “loopholes” allowing fundraising calls to any who donated $20 or more in the past five years be exempt from “campaign finance” stipulations, and changes to how the Commissioner of Canada Elections conducts investigations, round out the “Fair Election Act”.
Wake up Canada! Bill C-23 begs a resounding “oh hell no”. “Sharper teeth, longer reach, and freer hand” – if this isn’t an alarming turn, I don’t know what is.