Friday, May 2, 2014

The Fair Elections Act: An Exercise in False Advertising

The Fair Elections Act is a troubling piece of legislation that, as with much Conservative legislation, does not do what it was advertised, mainly making Canadian elections fair. It will place limitations on the ability of the chief electoral officer to investigate electoral fraud and to boost voter turnout. Along with these problems there are the issues related to vouching, party control over scrutineers, and the loosening of party financing. However this isn't the first bill that the Conservatives have put forward that has come up against so much criticism for being partisan and generally bad legislation.

The Conservative government has a tendency to push through ideologically driven bills and then attempt to rule by litigation instead of gaining consensus. This is costing Canadians millions of dollars in legal fees. When the government has to go to court to defend their legislation one has to wonder if this is an indication of the quality of the bill. The Conservatives are known for limiting debate in the House on legislation, (so much so that a motion was put forward to stop this tactic on the Fair Elections Act) and as a result they are forced to then deal with legal challenges afterward. Would it not be simpler to have a fair debate and pass legislation properly?

The Fair Elections Act is just another example of the same kind of ideologically blind sort of governing that the Conservatives have been practicing since they got their majority in 2011. It is indicative of a much deeper problem of a lack of respect for Parliament and the legislative process. The bill is designed to stack the deck in the favour of the governing party, and Canadians should be very troubled that debate will be limited before it is passed. Once again, there will likely be a legal challenge and the courts will once again have to decide if the bill is constitutional or not (hint: it isn't). All paid for by the Canadian taxpayer.

The Fair Elections Act is voter suppression, plain and simple. It is molded along the same lines as Republican legislation in the United States and Canadians should ask themselves if this is the sort of future we want when we go to the polls in 2015. The Conservative Party should also look at the way they govern and take a more cooperative approach instead of trying to bypass the House of Commons because they find the process of debate on legislation inconvenient to their PR campaign.

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