To the editor:
On Feb. 18, 2014, the Progressive Canadian Party (PCP) raised the issue of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper government using closure to speed through proposed amendments to the Canada Elections Act, which are favourable to the Conservative ruling party.
Nonetheless, the Harper government, having a majority of members in the House of Commons and the Senate, were able to pass Bill C-23 in spite of much criticism from the public and other MPs and senators.
Thus, the same party, which admitted guilt in breaking election law in the 2006 election and which chose to limit both a judicial enquiry and the Commissioner of Elections’ investigation into robocalls made during the 2011 Election, has unilaterally passed Bill C-23 into the Canada Elections Act.
The act still contains amendments that will disenfranchise many Canadian citizens, especially university students and Aboriginals.
It’s an act that specifically did not increase the Commissioner’s powers of investigation by enabling testimony to be taken under oath, as recommended by both the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner.
It’s an act that moves the Commissioner of Elections from a position of neutrality within Elections Canada to being responsible to a cabinet minister (where the Prime Minister can always quietly intervene).
This and other matters of concern expressed by the Progressive Canadian Party since February necessitate the act being challenged before the courts.
The PCP insists that, due to the nature of its passing and many terms included in it, Bill C-23, now passed as an “Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts,” should not be applied in elections until decisions on challenges to its terms have been made by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Sinclair Stevens, leader
Progressive Canadian Party