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.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Electoral Integrity of Act Questioned.

When 19 international Scholars from six democracy’s across the world add their voice to the over 150 Canadian scholars and almost universal condemnation of the Harper Regime's attempt to introduce partisan bias into our election rules and to reduce the powers of the world respected Elections Canada then you know something is very wrong with the proposed legislation.
Here is their open letter which clearly sets out SOME of the problems with this Bill:-

We, the undersigned, international scholars and political scientists, are concerned that Canada’s international reputation as one of the world’s guardians of democracy and human rights is threatened by passage of the proposed Fair Elections Act.
We believe that this Act would prove [to] be deeply damaging for electoral integrity within Canada, as well as providing an example which, if emulated elsewhere, may potentially harm international standards of electoral rights around the world.
In particular, the governing party in Canada has proposed a set of wide-ranging changes, which if enacted, would, we believe, undermine the integrity of the Canadian electoral process, diminish the effectiveness of Elections Canada, reduce voting rights, expand the role of money in politics, and foster partisan bias in election administration.
The bill seeks to rewrite many major laws and regulations governing elections in Canada. These major changes would reduce electoral integrity, as follows:

Elections Canada: The proposed Act significantly diminishes the effectiveness of Elections Canada, a non-partisan agency, in the fair administration of elections and the investigation of electoral infractions by:
· Severely limiting the ability of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to communicate with the public, thereby preventing the CEO from encouraging voting and civic participation, and publishing research reports
· Removing the enforcement arm of the agency, the Commissioner of Elections, from Elections Canada, and placing it in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), a government department
· Prohibiting the Commissioner from communicating with the public about the details of any investigation
· Preventing any details about the Commissioner’s investigations from being included in the DPP’s annual report on the Commissioner’s activities – a report that the DPP provides to the Attorney General (AG), and which the AG forwards to Parliament
· Failing to provide the Commissioner with the power to compel witness testimony (a significant obstacle in a recent investigation of electoral fraud)

Right to Vote: The proposed Act diminishes the ability of citizens to vote in elections by:
· Prohibiting the use of vouching to establish a citizen’s eligibility to vote
· Prohibiting the use of Voter Information Cards to establish a citizen’s identity or residency
The prohibition against vouching is ostensibly to reduce voter fraud yet there is no evidence, as affirmed by the Neufeld Report on Compliance Review, that vouching results in voter fraud. These changes to the voter eligibility rules will disproportionately impact seniors, students, the economically disadvantaged, and First Nations citizens, leading to an estimated disenfranchisement of over 120,000 citizens.

Money in Politics: The proposed Act expands the role of money in elections by:
· Exempting “fundraising expenses” from the spending limits for political parties, thereby creating a potential loophole and weakening enforcement
· Failing to require political parties to provide supporting documentation for their expenses, even though the parties are reimbursed over $30 million after every election
· Increasing the caps on individual donations from $1200 to $1500 per calendar year
· Increasing the caps on candidates’ contributions to their own campaigns from $1200 to $5000 per election for candidates and $25,000 per election for leadership contestants
· Creating a gap between the allowable campaign contributions of ordinary citizens and the contributions of candidates to their own campaigns, and thus increasing the influence of personal wealth in elections

Partisan Bias: The proposed Act fosters partisan bias and politicization by:
· Enabling the winning political party to recommend names for poll supervisors, thereby politicizing the electoral process and introducing the possibility of partisan bias
· By exempting “fundraising expenses” (communications with electors who have previously donated over $20 to a party) from “campaign spending,” creating a bias in favour of parties with longer lists of donors above this threshold – currently, the governing party

The substance of the Fair Elections Act raises significant concerns with respect to the future of electoral integrity in Canada. The process by which the proposed Act is being rushed into law in Parliament has also sparked considerable concern. The governing political party has used its majority power to cut off debate and discussion in an effort to enact the bill as soon as possible. By contrast, the conventional approach to reforming the electoral apparatus in Canada has always involved widespread consultation with Elections Canada, the opposition parties and the citizens at large, as well as with the international community.
In conclusion, we, the undersigned, ask that the proposed legislation should be revised so that contests in Canada continue to meet the highest international standards of electoral integrity.
Signed by 19 International Scholars.

Whilst the issue of 'vouching' has received a great deal of attention is is far from the only troubling issue, and perhaps not the most significant. Given the impact 'money' has upon our electoral process and the previous attempts to misdirect voters and the difficulty Elections Canada has had in finding and charging the culprits some of the other issues raised above are at least as important. This Bill cannot be allowed to pass!

LeadNow is working with key partners to coordinate a national day of action on Tuesday, March 25th in opposition to this proposed legislation, at Conservative MP offices and support locations, to rally the country and show Conservative MPs that people will stand up to defend our democracy. Do Join them.
Locally there will be a rally in front of MP Larry Miller’s office, 1131 2nd Avenue East, Owen Sound, N4K 2J1 at 12 noon on Tuesday.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Owen Gray said...

Mr. Harper has worked to establish an international reputation for himself, Rural.

He's made it to the international stage -- but not as someone who is admired and respected.

Rural said...

Its interesting Owen, how he is always available to the press whilst on overseas junkets but hides from our reporters here at home.

Anonymous said...

Cross posted @ http://nor-re.blogspot.ca/

Two decisions that took place in our life times have had a significant impact on our lives the first literally enslaved us through endless debt by government borrowing and paying interest to private banking institutions versus our public bank; Bank of Canada. The second turned private banking institutions into 'casinos' for the very wealthy known as the 1%. Also the 1% has proven it cannot lose at these publicly funded 'casinos' through the 2008-09 melt down and subsequent bailout. The federal conservatives under the manipulation of Harper have maintained Canada and Canadian banks were largely unscathed and did not require bailouts, this is a falsehood pure and simple. Harper and his hand-picked minions (no more valuable than trained seals) have out-right lied to the Canadian public over this and the media has been more than willing to be complacent with the lies originating in the PMO's office.

The first decision, called a recommendation in 1974-75 by The Basel Committee, which was a group of central bankers belonging to The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), (Bank of Canada was one of them under the Trudeau Liberal government), that connived to send us into eternal debt slavery. "According to Paul Hellyer, from 1974–1975 to 2010, Canadian taxpayers have paid one trillion, 100 billion dollars ($1,100,000,000,000) in interest on the federal debt to private lenders. In 2011, alone, Canadian taxpayers paid the private banks an estimated $37.7 billion to service the federal debt—over $103 million each and every day of the year!"* Paul Hellyer is a former Minister of Defence and served in the Liberal cabinets of Louis St. Laurent, Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. The Canadian government has the option to borrow from the public (our) bank, the Bank of Canada where the interest would go back to the government its people and communities. We would have no need to shut down home postal deliveries, veterans affairs offices, search and rescue operations, national parks services, environmental protections and science thereof or world class scientific research stations effectively muzzling scientists. Nor would the federal government need to reneg on medicare, employment insurance, disability payments, senior supplements, veterans support etcetera to balance the federal budget. "Harper’s Conservatives have systematically and relentlessly undermined programs helping ordinary Canadians while instituting tax cuts and policy changes benefiting the rich."* According to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) Canadian "...banks received $114 billion in cash and loan support from both the U.S. and Canadian governments during the 2008-2010 financial crisis."* continued next post

Anonymous said...

The second decision was: "...that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet."* This literally created the no loss 'casinos' for the elite or 1% at the expense of the 99% through government bailouts and the 2008-09 crisis proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Who are these 1% and what is their agenda? Some of them belong to a billionaire banker fraternity based on wall street called Kappa Beta Phi and in order to be a member of this exclusive and highly secretive club you must collect equity worth a minimum of $1 billion in federal reserve notes. These people know outright that they make their phoney wealth by taking from the 99% whom they scorn and hold in contempt, that means you and I fellow Canadians. Here is how it looks observing them on the inside "A journalist who gate-crashed a secret fraternity of billionaire bankers has laid bare the booze fuelled, cross dressing antics of its members as they openly mocked the 99 percent and made light of the enormous government bailouts of 2009."*

This reminds me of Stephen Harper who long before he was elected in speeches to right-wing audiences made up of social elitists and 1%ers from all across north America ridiculed and held in contempt Canada Canadians and their governing social safety nets.

After being elected he was the first prime minister in history to be declared to be in contempt of parliament and through that - all Canadians who don't agree with him. "The second minority government of Stephen Harper has fallen. Early Friday afternoon, 156 opposition MPs – all of the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloquistes present in the House of Commons – rose to support a motion of no-confidence. It was also a motion that declared the government to be in contempt of Parliament for its refusal to share information that opposition members said they needed to properly assess legislation put before them."*

Stephen then went on to cheat in the following election* mocking democracy to ensure a majority government so he could silence the opposition once and for all. He followed up duly by mocking our government oppositions role in parliament by shutting off debate ramming omnibus bills through parliament by the sheer force of his majority government and not ever on the merits of the bills and giving no Canadians a voice or a choice through open and honest debate. contined next post

Anonymous said...

Now we come to see the quintessential Stephen scornfully and contemptuously laughing at all Canadians and the very core of democracy by going through with "The Fair Elections Act"* Stephen definitively has the same mentality as the wall street whacko 'Kappa Beta Phi' sentimentality visited above in their glory at home making fun of the rest of us. This is Stephen to a T, his boy Pierre Poilievre also seems to be enjoying deriding and ridiculing Harry Neufeld whom he scoffs at and says provides the very reason we need the fair election act, something is amiss here.

For myself now that I am on to what Stephen (himself most certainly) and his hand-picked (selected carefully with a particular purpose in mind) minion sycophants in the know are doing is securing their own future currying favour of the 1% at the expense of both Canada and Canadians. Thereby cementing a place of (dis)honour for themselves in the 1% club and deriding the public the press and their role in parliament all the while laughing merrily behind our backs like the billionaires. It will take nothing less than the full-scale mobilization of the silent majority to drive these cancerous conservatives from government power, remember they will flaunt the law and cheat any way they can in this upcoming election starting with bill C-23. "But this is not a normal government. It does not operate in the usual way, nor does it feel bound by the usual rules. After all, if this were a normal government, it would not have as its minister for democratic reform such a noxious partisan as Mr. Poilievre, whose contempt for Parliament and its traditions registers every time he rises to speak in it." - Andrew Coyne: Fair Elections Act proof the Conservatives are no normal government.*

So all you non voters out there here is your choice don't vote in the upcoming election and be satisfied to be a laughingstock enslaved to the 1% who thinks of you as a cartoon character, don't forget by your non-vote you will also enslave generations to come.

Or you can throw off the yolk being placed on you by wanna-be 1%ers that masquerade as the Harper government who feel contempt and a deep repugnance for you by getting loud and getting heard; tell them to shove it up their collective a$$e$ or you will end up licking those same a$$e$ for the rest of your life along with generations to come. Remember you can change the future now and our future depends on it! Harper only received approximately 40% of the vote with only approximately 60% voter turnout, so he only represents 24% of eligible voters so therefore he in fact runs a minority government.


* http://qualicuminstitute.ca/wpress/federal-debt/

* http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2013/12/13/stop_stephen_harpers_destruction_of_our_social_safety_net_editorial.html

* https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/study-reveals-secret-canadian-bank-bailout

* http://www.gregpalast.com/larry-summers-and-the-secret-end-game-memo/

* http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2562087/Behind-curtains-Wall-Streets-secret-society-Where-cross-dressing-new-members-make-bad-jokes-Hilary-Clinton-drunkenly-mock-Main-Street-laugh-financial-crisis.html#ixzz2vDg3afnp

* http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/harper-government-falls-in-historic-commons-showdown/article4181393/

* http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/robocalls-scandal/

* http://www.burgomp.blogspot.ca/

* http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/28/andrew-coyne-fair-elections-act-proof-the-conservatives-are-no-normal-government/