Elections act needs major changes

Bill does not enhance democracy or fairness, nor will it increase voter turnout

Re: Government looking to enhance electoral laws, Letters (April 17)

I’m sure Mark Strahl’s defense of the Fair Election Act, Bill C-23, is in line with the talking points issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to MPs.

We can all agree that the alleged voter registration fraud needs to be dealt with. But Mark Strahl is silent about the other parts of this bill that would permit the incumbent party to select duty returning officers, central poll supervisors and polling clerks.

It would also diminish Elections Canada powers to investigate and to comment on concerns about campaign financing and other irregularities.

This bill is typical of other conservative legislation that puts something everybody is in favour of up front and sneaks in a lot of other changes that have only partisan value.

Strahl blames Elections Canada for the diminishing voter turnout, but the people who don’t vote are telling the politicians that they will not dignify the process by participating. They will come back to the polls when electing an MP, which means that they have a voice in Ottawa rather than someone parroting the party line at home.

As is, Bill C-32 does not enhance democracy or fairness, nor will it increase voter turnout. It should not be passed without major changes.

Hartmut Schmid,

Hope, B.C.

 

Educate yourself on proposed legislation

Re: Government looking to enhance electoral laws, Letters (April 17)

It does not surprise me that Minister Strahl is defending the Conservative position in regard to the Fair Elections Act. Right now anyone who represents the NDP, the Liberals or even the Green Party are spinning their wheels because it is the year before a federal election and any opposition will be seen as partisan politics.

It is a fact, as per Minister Strahl’s constituency office, that the Conservative caucus have a fierce loyalty to their leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and now Minister Pierre Polievre who authored this bill.

It is a fact that Conservative MPs decide in caucus what response they will give to any opposition and all speak with one voice. Even now when the Senate is saying that this bill is flawed and one brave Conservative backbencher has voiced the concerns of his constituents, Polievre is saying publicly that they will “consider” these things but they feel it is fine the way it is.

In other words anyone who disagrees with the tact decided in caucus will not be heard. No matter what you think of the Senate, in this case they are trying to protect Canadians and most likely will be ignored because as I was told by Minister Strahl’s assistant “we know what is best and are going to do it!”

Right now the consensus is that this is a big deal in Ottawa, but the Canadian people just don’t care. They are basically taking their democracy and right to vote as a given and trusting government to do what is right. They believe democracy will always be a given in our country. I have my opinion on this bill, but this is not the place for me to argue point by point with Minister Strahl. Our vote and how we protect it is our responsibility.

When any government of any persuasion wants to change who can and can’t vote, how Elections Canada is going to be changed, and what new powers are going to be given to the sitting government, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves, look at how it will affect the most vulnerable in society and decide if it is just. We have to question if it is enhancing electoral laws or is there some other motive. Each individual eligible to vote under the current law has to decide if democracy is important to them and what constitutes a slippery slope towards the downfall of that democracy. If we are apathetic, this bill will become law and there will be no recourse for those who go to the polls only to be told “sorry…you’re not eligible!” Any majority government will take this as a precedent to disregard any voice that opposes theirs.

I am pleading with Canadians to look into what the Conservatives are planning to put into law. Think about it and talk about it with your family and friends and if it sends up red flags or you hear warning bells, let Minister Strahl know that it is you, the constituent, he is responsible to, not the caucus. If you agree with it, then stand your ground there too, but at least make an informed choice.

Janet Cohade,

Hope, B.C.

 

Government shaping ridings to its advantage

In regards to Mark Strahl’s letter on April 17 (Government looking to enhance electoral laws), if the federal Conservatives can keep that extra 120,000 disadvantaged votes away, it could possibly make a difference in some of the poorer ridings, such as represented by the downtown Eastside. It just appears to be another ridiculous guise of Prime Minister Harper and the Conservatives to shape the ridings to their advantage. It’s like they understand in 2015, they’re in for the fight of their life.

I think you especially, Mark, should be aware that every other party thinks you’re vulnerable because it seems, other than not making yourself truly available, you really haven’t done anything to write home about. I think we all were hoping for more.

Art Green,

Hope, B.C.

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