The Council of Canadians opposes the Harper government's 'Fair Elections Act', because it:
- Fails to give the Commissioner of Elections the authority to compel witnesses to give evidence. Commissioner Yves Cote has said that his inability to legally compel witnesses was hampering the investigation of more than 1,400 complaints about false or misleading telephone calls to electors in the 2011 election.
- Denies election officials the investigative power to compel political parties and their riding associations to provide financial documentation to support their financial returns.
- Fails to hold political parties to account for the authorized use of its data base by those who have access to it.
- Requires the Commissioner to inform a politician in writing if they are to be investigated for a breach of election laws, a statutory heads-up not provided to anyone else in broader society.
- Muzzles the Chief Electoral Officer from making allegations of electoral fraud public.
- Shifts the appointment of the Commissioner of Elections from the Chief Electoral Officer to a federal civil servant.
- Raises the limits on political donations by 25 per cent, from $1200 to $1500. This benefits the Conservative party who have more big donors who give the maximum amount.
- Increases the election-spending limits for each party by 5 per cent, which was about $21 million in the last election.
- Stops voters from using the voter card sent out by Elections Canada as valid ID. This could mean that some Indigenous people, young people, seniors, homeless, even those without a drivers licence, may not be able to exercise their right to vote.
- Forbids Elections Canada from launching ad campaigns to encourage people to vote.
The Harper government introduced this bill on Tuesday February 4, but by Thursday February 6 had invoked time allocation, putting a limit on the amount of time MPs could spend debating the bill. It is expected that the bill's second reading could pass as early as this Monday February 10 or Tuesday February 11.
To stop the passage of this affront to democracy, the Council of Canadians is asking that you join a synchronized action this Monday February 10 from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET. We are asking that you call your Conservative MP (or the nearest Conservative MP to you) to express your opposition to this bill. If you are in the Ottawa-area, we ask that you join us at 12:30 p.m. on Parliament Hill for the start of this action and at 1 p.m. to participate in the presentation of our petition to an MP for it to be tabled in the House of Commons.
That petition calls on the government to, "Table electoral reform legislation that incorporates the recommendations of Elections Canada, establishes enforceable standards for the conduct of political parties, enhances the ability of individual voters to challenge election results that have been obtained through 'fraud or corrupt or illegal practices,' and protects voters from being victimized by election fraud again."
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