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, November 27, 2016

Fair Elections Act Updated

This week the Liberals introduced a bill to reverse many of the more egregious changes brought in with the Conservative “fair” elections act, the summary of this legislation says......
This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to
(a) remove limitations on public education and information activities conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer;
(b) establish a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens 14 to 17 years of age may consent to be included;
(c) authorize the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with information about permanent residents and foreign nationals for the purpose of updating the Register of Electors;
(d) remove the prohibition on the Chief Electoral Officer authorizing the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a “voter information card”) as identification;
(e) replace, in the context of voter identification, the option of attestation for residence with an option of vouching for identity and residence;
(f) remove two limitations on voting by non-resident electors: the requirement that they have been residing outside Canada for less than five consecutive years, and the requirement that they intend to return to Canada to resume residence in the future; and
(g) relocate the Commissioner of Canada Elections to within the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, and provide that the Commissioner is to be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, for a non-renewable term of 10 years.

In addition, the enactment contains transitional provisions and makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

All in all a positive move that removes some of the voter suppression tactics introduced by the Harper Regime in their “fair” elections act, there should be little objection to this bill but it will be interesting to see how the 'old school' conservative MPs react to it! I will say that whilst I do agree with a citizen being a citizen for life no matter where he or she lives. I do have a few reservations about clause (f).
if a citizen has left Canada and not returned in 5 years and says he or she has no intention of returning then I find it difficult to say that they should be able to influence to future of those that actually live here. I am still a British citizen (AND a Canadian one) after some 45 years in Canada, should I then be able to vote in the Brexit debacle or for a representative for British Parliament.....I dont think so.
The pre-registration of younger voters is a big step forward and the reinstatement of Elections Canada’s mandate to educate and encourage voters is so obviously right that no further comment should be required. The updating of the voters list (and hopefully the resources to do so) is long overdue, an inordinately large portion of the problems at the polls was the discrepancy between the voter list and the reality on the ground, particularly in rural ridings where addressing norms are often far different from urban norms (which the database appears to be set up to accommodate).

These small but important changes will no doubt get totally lost in the discussions that are about to explode about the Electoral Reform Committees report about to be released and which I fear will simply create further division particularly with the call for a referendum which it is rumoured to contain in order to achieve some kind of consensus with the conservative contingent on the committee.

Its going to be interesting to see where this all goes and is, I suspect, a no win situation for the Liberals, but never forget that had they not come to power there would be no debate and we would be heading in the other direction, as it would seem are our neighbours to the south.

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Lorne said...

While there is much I am critical of in the Trudeau government Rural, I was very pleased to see its restoration of a more unfettered democracy than suited the Harper regime. I especially like the idea of a registry of future voters. My understanding is that if young people consent to be included, they will be notified when they are eligible to vote. The more people who participate in the voting process, the stronger our democracy will be.

Owen Gray said...

The pre-registration of younger voters is a giant step in the right direction, Rural.

Rural said...

The future of our democracy rests in the hands of these future voters and it is indeed good to see this encouraging change.