Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bill C-23, Fair Elections Act seems now on solid ground

Now that a Senate committee  has recommended nine changes to Bill C-23, Fair Elections Act, the legislation seems pretty solid. And, since Pierre Poilievre has, apparently, indicated privately that he’s open to changes, an amended version of the bill will likely become law by this summer.

We would probably have gotten to this point earlier had not the minister responsible for the bill been MP Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton), Minister of State for Democratic Reform.

Opposition to Bill C-23—according to an April 14-15 poll by Angus Reid Global—is growing. Apparently, 59 per cent of Canadians who claimed to be very or fairly familiar with the bill were opposed to it. This represents a three-point increase since Angus Reid’s similar survey in February.

More disturbing are these findings: 65 per cent of those polled say they don’t trust the Conservative government to ensure the best possible elections oversight. Moreover, among those aware of the issue, 72 per cent claim “government’s changes are motivated by politics and a dislike of Elections Canada,” with a mere 28 per cent of all respondents saying “the Conservatives are making a genuine attempt to improve … Canada’s elections.”

Isolating the controversial issue of “vouching” at a polling station, nearly 75 per cent of all respondents support elimination of the option.

In my view, the trust issue is largely a reflection of the style Minister Poilievre has brought to this debate. The minister comes across as hyperpartisan, combative and rigid, and he’s the last member of parliament I’d expect to be charged with responsibility for something as sensitive as reforms to election legislation.

Recoil from Minister Poilievre’s style has been intensified by unseemly ad hominem attacks he’s led against Marc Mayrand, the chief electoral officer and Sheila Fraser, the popular and much respected former auditor general.

In fairness, I do have doubts about Mayrand’s impartiality. For example, the chief electoral officer does seem to have been rather generous to the Liberal party’s leadership contenders by grossly extending the time period for their campaign loan repayments, while being overly rigid when dealing with issues relating to members of the Conservative party.

Payback of this kind, though—if this is indeed what we’re seeing—seems petty and unbecoming of Canada’s preeminent political party.

But Sheila Fraser? How many times in the past have the Tories praised this woman and acknowledged her credibility? And, in her many years of public service, when was she ever found to be self-serving or partisan? It was Ms. Fraser’s report, after all, which revealed details of the multi-million-dollar Liberal sponsorship scandal, while the Liberals were still in office.

It must be said, however, that despite the way the bill has been mishandled in the House and broadly in the public sphere, the strategy—intended or not—of having Conservative Senators come to its rescue has been inspired.

In closing, let me say that the amended legislation deserves a better response than it has so far received from the opposition. Before the amendments, they may have had a legitimate case to make; post-amendments, their objections are mainly partisan and not substantive.

The way I see it, we’re set to go for 2015.


  1. Actually, I like the way Pierre Poilievre make the lefts heads explode. ;-)

  2. I agree with Anon above. Poilevre refused to bow down to the hysterics, ridiculous hyperbole and the all out assault of the far left party's and their media jackals. IMO Polilevre simply fought back with facts and reason against the advocates and taxpayer funded lobbyists for voter fraud. The advocates for voter fraud and the continuing corruption of Elections (Liberal) Canada were unable to bully Polievre, and for that Mr. Polievre should be applauded.

  3. Actually Polievre was effective at outing the opposition. They threw everything but the kitchensink at this but goofed when they accused the minister of not wanting any amendments. Senate recommends amendments, minister aggrees, opposition loses moral high ground.
    Opposition still can't strategize past one preferred outcome and never consider other possible outcomes.

  4. Yes, Pollievre is awesome. As a Liberal, I hope he continues his dickishness behaviour

  5. the fair elections Act
    "protects voters from rogue calls and impersonation ( Frank Valeriote Guelph ) with mandatory public registry for mass calling, prison time for impersonating election officials and increased penalties for deceiving people out of their votes"

  6. russ where did you find those polls at the ones I've seen people over whelminly support this bill they want to get rid of vouching. just curious russ.


      "Isolating the controversial issue of “vouching” at a polling station, nearly 75 per cent of all respondents support elimination of the option."