This week, the Conservatives were ramming Bill C-23, the so called “Fair Elections Act,” through the House of Commons.
They have limited debate on the massive 252-page document to three days, after which it will have to come to a vote. Given the majority enjoyed by the Conservatives, this bill could become law by the end of this month.
For a piece of legislation that will have such broad impacts on the right to vote, one of the most cherished and fundamental principles of democracy, would it not be reasonable and “fair” to move with caution and take the time necessary to hold a conversation with Canadians?
By tightening up voter identification rules and eliminating the practice of “vouching” for other voters who lack proper identification at polling stations, Bill C-23 will make it more difficult to vote for an entire class of marginalized citizens – those most vulnerable due to homelessness, challenges associated with mental health concerns or addictions, those differently abled, elderly and infirm, residing in rural areas, youth or members of indigenous communities.
The bill also proposes to water down the role of the watchdog, the chief electoral officer of Canada.
As citizens of Canada, we cannot sit idly by while the underpinnings of our democracy are being eroded and undermined. It is time to take action before it is too late, and time is running out.
Phone your member of Parliament, Ryan Leef, at 668-6565 or send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know that you want to have an opportunity to express yourself on any changes proposed to your rights as a voter, before these are brought into law.
Jean-Francois Des Lauriers