A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A tale of two rulings........

The Federal Court has rejected a bid by the Conservatives to prevent federal election results in a handful of tightly contested ridings from being overturned.
"Far from being frivolous or vexatious, or an obvious abuse, the applications raise serious issues about the integrity of the democratic process in Canada," Federal Court Justice Martha Milczynski wrote in her decision.
The applicants identified "practices that if proven, point to a campaign of activities that would seek to deny eligible voters their right to vote and/or manipulate or interfere with that right being exercised freely," she continued.
Failure to bring such serious allegations before the courts could shake public confidence and trust in the electoral process, Milczynski added.
How very refreshing to have a federal judge say what we all know to be the crux of the matter, we can but hope that this small glimmer of light will encourage others to come forward and publicly challenge any perceived wrong doing at election time – be it inadvertently by poorly trained election workers or by knowledgeable but morally challenged political operatives.
On the other side of the coin........

Elections Canada refuses to reveal rulings on 3000 complaints in the last 15 years

In the context of events that include the slow pace of the investigation into fraudulent robocalls and the recent replacement of the Commissioner of Canada Elections in the middle of that investigation, it's difficult to imagine a more effective way to heighten concern about the agency's motives and methods than a decision suggesting that possible violations of election law won't be investigated because, basically, it's just more trouble than it's worth.
The individual who filed that complaint passed EC's response along to Democracy Watch (DW) which published their own critique of the ruling and renewed their request for a public inquiry.
...the ruling calls into question what standards the Commissioner has been using for enforcement for the past several years, and is using in the 2011 fraudulent robocall scheme cases. Democracy Watch recently filed an access-to-information request with the Commissioner after the office refused to disclose the rulings it has made on more than 3,000 complaints from the 1997 election on through the 2011 election.
We shall be very interested to see what these documents reveal if and when they are released, it is increasingly looking like organizations like Democracy Watch and The Council of Canadians are doing a far better job of ensuring that our election processes are not subject to fraud and errors than the government agency actually charged with that task. It is as Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said “troubling” that “we take for granted, in Canada, that everything usually works honestly and so on”, it is increasingly clear that we cannot do so and the system as it currently operates has failed us. If we loose faith in the electoral system and the agency charged with overseeing it then our democracy is truly on its death bed, unfortunately the Harper regime has done nothing to bolster EC but instead exploited the weaknesses in the system and reduced the resources they have to call upon. Not a good sign.

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