By James Ferguson
April 10, 2014
Liberal MP Sean Casey says at first glance, the title of a bill working its way through Parliament implies there is an effort to fix and correct some problems to protect the integrity of Canada’s electoral system.
It’s not true, he said in an interview.
“This bill is actually not fair,” Casey said. “It is an attempt to provide an advantage to the Conservatives in the upcoming election and it is as an attack on the independence of Elections Canada.”
Fair Elections Act, or Bill C-23, changes the rules for voters, candidates, parties and the people whose job it is to make sure elections are fair.
Ottawa says it will boost penalties for offences, reduce voter fraud and empower political parties, as opposed to Elections Canada, to drive voter turnout.
For some voters, it means it’ll be harder to cast a ballot – a voter will no longer be able to have someone vouch for his or her identity, a system the government argues is too vulnerable to fraud.
Political parties will also get a combined list showing if someone voted or not, but not who that person voted for, while Elections Canada will no longer be able to run advertising campaigns encouraging people to vote.
Malpeque Liberal MP Wayne Easter said the problem is in the broad approach to the legislation. He said the bill, if not amended, would cut the legs out from underneath the chief electoral officer.
“Their ability to do their job on overall elections concerns is being taken away from them,” Easter said. “The good things in the bill are being nullified by the damage that is being done to the chief electoral officer.”