Pierre Poutine would be proud of Bill C 23

Linda Leon Open letter to MP Ryan Leef: On May 13, Bill C-23, the Unfair Elections Act, passed. It now awaits rubber-stamping by the Conservative Senate. While clauses with the worst optics for the Conservative government have been removed, Bill C-23 rem

COMMENTARY

Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:

On May 13, Bill C-23, the Unfair Elections Act, passed. It now awaits rubber-stamping by the Conservative Senate.

While clauses with the worst optics for the Conservative government have been removed, Bill C-23 remains a document that Pierre Poutine can be proud of.

The commissioner of Canada Elections will still have his hands tied when it comes to investigating electoral fraud. He may not compel witnesses to testify. He may not launch an investigation until he has “reasonable grounds for investigation.” (“Reasonable” is a useful weasel word.)

He will have to apply to the Office of the Public Prosecutor to attain the funds necessary to hire investigators and experts for investigations. The commissioner must inform those being investigated but may not inform parliamentarians or the public.

Conservatives committed the majority of electoral crimes in Canada since 2006. Two of these Conservatives were rewarded with Senate seats. There have been calls for a clamp down on these offences.

Now the investigative arm of Elections Canada has been crippled and Pierre Poutine need not worry.

Amendments to Bill C-23 have restored the power to appoint returning officers to Elections Canada. However, the incumbent’s riding association will appoint the deputy returning officer and half of the poll clerks and registration officers.

In 2008, smirking enumerators handed out Conservative electioneering propaganda in the Yukon.

While Elections Canada is no longer completely muzzled, its ability to conduct educational programs for adults has been curtailed beyond telling people where and when to vote. It may do studies but may not make them public without permission of the Senate and the House of Commons.

Pierre Poutine has been clear. Informed Canadians are dangerous Canadians.

Annual political contribution limits have been raised to $1,500 per year from $1,200. Candidates own campaign donation limits increased from $1,200 to $5,000. This increase will allow the wealthy to buy elections.

“Yippee!” says corporate Canada.

The per-vote subsidy, which provided a merit-based subsidy to parties based on the number of votes received, will be gone by the next election. It compensated, in a small way, for the institutionalized unfairness of our first-past-the-post electoral system.

On May 13, NDP MP Craig Scott said of the replacement of per-vote subsidies with bank loans for members of small parties and independents: “It was unworkable according to the chief electoral officer and unworkable according to the banks.”

According to the Hansard, you said, “The member’s argument about resourcing being indicative of incumbents’ positions is not actually the case. I was not an incumbent in the last election but I was resourced. Resources do not equate to election success because the incumbent in the last election in the Yukon spent $20,000 more than he had in the election before and lost 1,500 votes. That resourcing did not equate to election success, and that is not broadly the case across this country.”

What exactly were you were trying to say? That you won in spite of fewer dollars or that it didn’t make a bit of difference?

Larry Bagnell had $79,778.30 at his disposal during the last election while you had $76,969.97. This is not a significant difference. You received the bulk of your funding from the Conservative Party, which was a lucky thing for you since not one person donated to your campaign.

“Resources” had nothing to do with your win in the last election. The progressive vote was split and you won by 132 votes.

Regardless, if “resourcing” isn’t a factor in election outcomes, why is the Conservative government spending millions of Canadian tax dollars on partisan propaganda?

A government that cared about the right to vote for all Canadians would have kept the voter identification card and found a way to make it secure.

According to Pierre Poutine, “Most Canadians agree that it is common sense and reasonable to prevent certain people from voting.”

While oath taking and attesting will be allowed, there are sufficient hurdles for voters to jump through to discourage the vote. Many Yukoners, First Nations, rural people and students use post office boxes. It is likely that the number of people who fail to vote because of difficulties will be in the hundreds of thousands.

The Conservative government is in the midst of disputes with First Nations across Canada. First Nations view this government with deep distrust. These conflicts are creating barriers to wealth for the resource sector.

Pierre Poutine has been clear. It is strategically smart to suppress the First Nations vote.

Linda Leon is a Whitehorse freelance writer.

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