The Harper government is seeking to rapidly pass a sweeping election law that Canada's Chief Electoral Officer has called an affront to democracy. The aim of this bill is not to introduce much needed positive reforms to election law in Canada, as has been claimed by the government. This legislation is a blatant attempt by the Harper government to stack the deck in favour of the Conservatives in the next federal election.
Harper’s new Unfair Elections Act would:
- make it harder for people to vote.
- disproportionately impact students and youth, Indigenous people, seniors, people on low incomes, and other groups of people who the Conservatives know are unlikely to vote for them.
- fail to bring to justice the people behind the widespread election fraud in 2011.
- create a new "independent" Commissioner of Canada Elections, who would be accountable not to Parliament but to the Justice Minister.
- actually make it harder to catch perpetrators of election fraud like Pierre Poutine.
- prevent Elections Canada from talking about democracy, including prohibiting: Elections Canada participation in the Student Vote program, a national initiative to increase youth voter turnout by allowing 500,000 students below voting age to vote in a parallel election; publicly discussing (or even researching) how to increase voter turnout.
- would prevent Elections Canada from reporting publicly about voter complaints it receives, including about fraudulent calls.
- stack the electoral deck in Harper's favour in a variety of additional ways, including changing the rules governing fundraising and election spending on robocalls companies.
We call on all Members of Parliament to:
- not allow this new elections law to pass without removing the parts that would legalize voter suppression.
- replace the parts of the Unfair Elections Act that undermine democracy with new provisions to prevent election fraud from happening again, including giving the Commissioner the right to compel evidence and levying a hefty fine against any political party which allows its data base to be used to mislead voters.
- introduce legislation for proportional representation, which must be a central part of meaningful electoral reform.
We reject the Orwellian name the Harper government has given this legislation - the so-called "Fair" Elections Act - and will continue to refer to it more accurately as the Unfair Elections Act. We hope you will too. And we hope you will join us to stop it.
Canadian Federation of Students
Council of Canadians
If your organization would like to endorse this statement and join the growing opposition to the Unfair Elections Act, please send your name, organization, and contact information to: firstname.lastname@example.org.