No Fairness in Harper Government’s “Fair Elections Act”.

Apr 20

In recent week the Harper Government introduced a bill – the “Fair Elections Act” – into the Canadian parliament intending to make some changes to the Canada Elections Act.

Among the most notable points contained in the bill is to prevent people without photo ID from voting, change how Elections Canada deals with voter fraud, and increase donations to the political parties. The Harper Government claims the bill will “preserve the integrity of elections”.


Fair Elections Act an thinly-disguised attempt by the Harper Government to right future elections.

Fair Elections Act an thinly-disguised attempt by the Harper Government to right future elections.

This act is little more than a thinly-veiled attempt by the Harper government to tilt the table in their favor in future elections.

The Conservative Party is very big on cracking down on supposed voter fraud. Conservative senator Thomas McInnis claimed in a recent senate committee meeting he knew of “thousands and thousands” of cased of voter fraud in Halifax and Dartmouth, NS. Conservative MP Brad Butt claimed he saw people taking voter information cards out of the garbage and using them to vote.

When pressed for details, however, neither man could provide evidence to support their claims.

One would have to be naive to dismiss the notion of voter fraud in Canada, but I’m willing to bet there’s more spoiled ballots in every federal election than cases of actual fraud.

The main target of the proposed Act are seniors, students and aboriginals who rely on “vouching”, which allows voters without photo ID to swear to their home address if another registered voter vouches for their identity. It would ban law-abiding Canadian citizens, who for various reasons lac a photo ID, from participating in a supposed basic right – the right to vote.

Lifting the limitations on donations for political parties sounds like a fair deal for all, until one realizes the Conservative Party has the largest pool of donors. Lifting the limits on donations would mean significant millions into their coffers, giving them a decided advantage over the other parties.

Placing a gag order on the Chief Elections Officer of Elections Canada to prevent them from encouraging people to vote is merely the Conservatives way of trying to prevent the encouraged from voting the wrong way. That includes the Student Vote program. Most young voters tend to vote Liberal or NDP, not Conservative. The Harper crowd just can’t have that.

The bill has been criticized by elections experts, including well-respected former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. For their troubles, the Conservatives Democrative Reform minister Pierre Poillevre lashed out, attempting to smear his critics by claiming they had ulterior motives.

The real reason for the “Fair Elections Act” is to help the ruling Conservatives maintain their grip on power. Only 30 percent of Canadians polled represent the core supporters of the Conservatives. After eight years in power, and with an election slated for 2015, there’s a growing fatigue among Canadians with the Harper government, particularly its ham-handed, bullying fear mongering.

A government with a solid record to stand on wouldn’t need to stoop to these tactics. Economically, the Conservatives have done reasonably well. But many Canadians are growing uneasy over the growing scandals within the Conservative Party, the seeming indifference toward veterans, the downturn in environmental policy and the muzzling of environmental scientists, and the sometimes outrageously rude and discourteous actions by some Conservative politicians toward voters.

The Harper government is obviously concerned, hence the timing of the “Fair Elections Act”, something they evidently weren’t concerned about over most of their tenure in power until they saw their poll numbers stubbornly stuck below those which would guarantee them another majority government. Suddenly, election fraud is everywhere and must be addressed by disenfranchising thousands of voters, bolstering political donation dollars and muzzling those in Elections Canada who dare disagree with them.

This bill will likely pass through the House of Commons and be approved by the Senate. There isn’t enough opposition votes in either chamber to shoot it down without some brave Conservative MPs and senators defying their party leadership. It could take a legal challenge to the Supreme Court to either have the bill, or parts of it, declared unconstitutional, and that probably won’t happen until after the next election.

It could take the Harper government going down to defeat in 2015, despite their best efforts to tilt the table in their favor, to eliminate this odious assault on basic voter rights.

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