Editor: Earlier this month the Conservative government introduced a piece of legislation called the Fair Elections Act. The legislation has already moved passed second reading. It is more than passing reasonable that this bill will become law before the month is out and change the way elections are run in this country.
If you ask the Minister of State, Pierre Poilièvre, he’ll tell you the law is designed to combat election fraud. This is a smokescreen. Election fraud is not a major problem in this country, at least not because the wrong people are voting.
The fraud that occurred in the last election was perpetrated by political parties who overspent, misdirected and cheated voters. Elections Canada has been painstakingly trying to reconstruct what happened over the last few elections and has only begun to bring some to some kind of justice. But Elections Canada was not only toothless in its punishments, but in its abilities to investigate. The new legislation actually weakens Elections Canada and moves the power to hold parties accountable.
Other bizarre changes will make it so Elections Canada will merely oversee elections, and not even advertise elections to Canadians. Laws will be tightened to make it harder for the poor, the transient, students and seniors to vote. The individual donation limit will be raised which at the current time is a benefit to the Conservative Party.
Leading journalists have concluded that something untoward happened in the last election. Rules were bent, if not broken, in such cases as the former Labrador MP and Mr. Dean Del Mastro. Instead of improving our election laws this bill is poised to make abuse easier and consequences less likely. It causes me great anxiety, and like many things in this country, it will pass unnoticed and the risk not fully realized until after 2015.
Fort Smith, NT