Five Unfair Things About The Fair Elections Act
The Huffington Post: The Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) is as devastating to democracy as Vic Toew’s Bill C-30. While Bill C-30 raised considerable public debate and even got the group Anonymous involved, it appears that the Fair Elections Act hasn’t raised the same ire. Maybe it’s because the Conservatives have focused public attention on vouching.
If Canadians were educated with the same intensity about the other parts of Bill C-23, maybe we’d get the reaction we saw with Bill C-30. The Fair Elections Act, when you examine all its parts, is designed to fix the next election so the ruling party who are the Conservatives win.
That is not fair or democratic for 2015 or any future elections.
Read (below) CCLA’s concerns regarding the Fair Elections Act.
Proposed Elections Law Raises Serious Democratic Concerns
February 21st, 2014
On February 4, 2014, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-23 in Parliament. The Bill, also known as the Fair Elections Act, would substantially amend the Canada Elections Act – the law that spells out in great detail how to exercise the right to vote, how elections are administered, how campaigns may fundraise and spend, and what constitutes an election offense.
The Bill addresses a variety of topics, but perhaps most concerning is a change it would make to the identification requirements for citizens to vote.
The Bill would remove the option of proving your identity by having another elector vouch for you. This method was used by over 100,000 voters in the last federal election, and although it was subject to some irregularities at that time (in that some election officers didn’t properly apply the correct rules) there is no evidence that it is a process that results in fraud or allows some to vote who are not eligible.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer, young persons, seniors and Aboriginal persons are most likely to be affected by the elimination of vouching as a means of identification.
The proposal to remove vouching and to disallow the use of a voter identification card is of serious concern to CCLA. The right to vote lies at the very core of our democracy and is protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Time and time again our courts have commented on the fundamental character of the right to vote. It helps to provide citizens with a voice in how their country is governed and is the basis of the government’s legitimacy.
If our election rules are not properly enforced or followed, we should address that. But disenfranchising eligible voters is NOT the answer.
CCLA is strongly opposed to any change in the law that would erect barriers to exercising the right to vote, particularly if those barriers will impact on groups that are already disadvantaged or face hurdles in accessing their rights.
The Fair Elections Act has been through second reading in the House of Commons and is now before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
CCLA will be asking to appear before the Committee and strongly encourages the government to engage in widespread consultations on the Bill.
It has been suggested by some that cross-country hearings should take place and CCLA agrees that, given the impact of the Bill on the right to vote, the Committee should engage in a process that would involve as many Canadians as possible from around the country.
There are a number of other provisions of the Fair Elections Act that CCLA will be examining to consider their impact on the right to vote, democratic legitimacy, and freedom of expression. Check our website for more on the Bill in the coming weeks and months.
If you are concerned about the right to vote and the impact of the Fair Elections Act, write to your MP or consider making a submission to the Committee.