Letters

Letters: Elections act fair for whom?

All Canadians are constitutionally guaranteed the right to vote.

Yet again this Conservative government is challenging one of the basic rights of Canadians.

The more one ponders the Orwellian-sounding “Fair Elections Act,” the more one has to come to conclusion that this legislation has more to do with gaming the system and providing the Harper Conservatives with more political advantages, than it does with fairer elections.

Indeed, virtually every change, be it upping contribution limits, neutering the Chief Electoral Officer, or even doing away with vouching, is good for the Conservatives and not so good for the opposition parties…or for democracy in general.

Canada’s election challenge is to increase citizen participation by getting more people out to vote, rather than eliminating tools such as the vouching system and the voter information card.

Canada’s election crisis is related to low voter turnout and uncertainty surrounding the dirty tricks used by political operatives in the last federal election … it’s not fraud by individual voters…it’s not vouching as suggested by this government. The 120,000 people who voted in the last election did so by vouching were mostly seniors, students and First Nation Canadians.

Canadians need to ask themselves: Will the number of cases of fraud prevented actually be greater than the number of people prevented from voting?

This bill has been slammed by academics in Canada and by a group of international election law experts from around the world weighing in at how bad this would be for Canada, for Canadians, for emerging democracies that look up to Canada. It again further erodes the way the world looks at us.

Changes in the electoral law should be consensual, not pushed through Parliament by the governing party acting alone. Democracy and elections do not belong to any one party. Organizing them is not the responsibility of the government of the day.

The Conservatives have already used their majority to defeat amendments made and supported by all opposition parties to the Fair Elections Act by a vote of 149-131…not one Tory MP, including Mark Strahl saw fit to break ranks, despite mounting public opposition to this bill.

This bill should be challenged at every level. Voting is your Canadian right, limiting the ways in which you can vote is simply unconstitutional.

 

Louis De Jaeger

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