More like the Unfair Elections Act

Linda Leon Open letter to MP Ryan Leef: In your recent letter to the Yukon News, you said, "the Fair Elections Act will ensure citizens are in charge of democracy." While Bill C-23 imposes punishments to those who are caught committing electoral crime,

COMMENTARY

by Linda Leon

Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:

In your recent letter to the Yukon News, you said, “the Fair Elections Act will ensure citizens are in charge of democracy.”

While Bill C-23 imposes punishments to those who are caught committing electoral crime, you are incorrect to state that it will empower the commissioner of Elections Canada.

The commissioner may no longer compel witnesses to testify. The commissioner will be answerable to the attorney general, which unlike Elections Canada is not an arms-length institution.

The act enforces secrecy about investigations undertaken by both the commissioner and the director of public prosecution. These cases will be exempt from access-to-information requirements.

This part of the act is called “Independent Commissioner of Canada Elections: Freer Hand.” “Freer Hand” for whom?

You said that the act will “respect the results of democratic elections by ensuring no one individual can reverse the decision of thousands of voters before judicial recourses are exhausted.” When has a fair election ever been over turned in Canada?

Who is the “one individual” conservatives are so worried about? Is it a whistle blower, a victim of Pierre Poutine or the commissioner, Marc Mayrand?

The Conservative Party has been conducting a slander campaign against Mayrand since the in-and-out Elections Canada shenanigans were first exposed. I must remind you that Conservative MP Peter Penashue committed a crime through electoral expense fiddling. The subsequent re-election in Labrador was completely appropriate.

And where exactly are the “sharper teeth” you talked about? Democracy Watch believes that Bill C-23 failed “to increase the amount of all proposed fines to a level that will actually discourage violations (all the fines proposed in Bill C-23 should be 10 times higher).”

There is a far too brief 30-day time limit to reporting electoral crimes. Companies conducting robo-calls are not required to provide call lists or scripts to the CRTC. Political parties are not required to provide lists of individuals with access to the voter databases. This last part would have made the discovery and prosecution of Pierre Poutine possible.

To say that there were numerous cases of voter fraud using the vouching system in the last election is untrue. While there were irregularities, Harry Neufield, who in 2011 reviewed electoral law and rule compliance, has not found a single case of voter fraud. Neufield recommended a tightening up of regulations, not voter suppression. The chief electoral officer said that 120,000 voters used the vouching system in the last election.

The voter information card (VIC) used by 73 per cent of seniors and care home residences in the last election will no longer be applicable. Many First Nations people, rural people, the newly moved, those working away from home, students and homeless people also use VICs.

Where is the substitute for these two systems of voter identification that will make it possible for these people to vote?

According to Neufield, hundreds of thousands of people will be disenfranchised under the Unfair Elections Act.

Section 44 of the bill states, “In addition, the party whose candidate received the most votes in the previous election will be able to make recommendations to the returning officer for individuals to occupy the position of central poll supervisor.”

Essentially, political parties will get to choose who supervises the polls rather than Elections Canada. How can that be right?

Furthermore, parties, riding associations and candidates may appoint their own auditors.

Non-Canadians may spend up to $500 on political donations before they have to register as residents.

Annual donation limits have been raised to $1,500 per year, from $1,200. Candidates own campaign donation limits increased to $5,000, from $1,200. The so-called “small donations” is in fact an increase that will allow the wealthy to buy elections.

Six academics, endorsed by 160 Canadian scholars, wrote a damning essay on the Unfair Elections Act. “While we agree that our electoral system needs some reforms, this bill contains proposals that would seriously damage the fairness and transparency of federal elections and diminish Canadians’ political participation,” the essay states. Nineteen International scholars writing an open letter in the Globe and Mail said, “We believe that this act would prove (to) be deeply damaging for electoral integrity within Canada, as well as providing an example which, if emulated elsewhere, may potentially harm international standards of electoral rights.”

To say this bill will “ensure citizens are in charge of democracy” is beyond misleading. It is an insult to our intelligence.

Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen

xx
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

lwtters
Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Most Read