Senate confronts Harper on ridiculous Elections Act


mentalfloss
+1
#1
Senate confronts Harper on ridiculous Elections Act

In a rare exercise of power, a Senate committee is pushing back against Stephen Harper’s Conservative government by unanimously recommending changes to the Fair Elections Act, an overhaul of electoral law that is fiercely opposed by other parties.

The Senate report, which will be made public this week, amounts to a warning shot from the embattled Senate. The move is not binding, but it raises the threat of the Senate changing the bill itself if the House of Commons ignores its recommendations before passing Bill C-23.

The Senate committee, two-thirds of whose members are Conservatives appointed by Mr. Harper, heard from a broad range of experts last week, the vast majority of whom called for substantial changes to the deeply divisive bill.

Now the senators are set to recommend, unanimously, specific amendments.

“I think it’s a recognition by all senators that there is something seriously wrong with this bill, according to every single witness that has appeared before both committees in the House of Commons and the Senate,” said George Baker, a Liberal-appointed senator who serves as deputy chair of the committee. “It’s really an expression of the impartiality of members of the Senate.”

It’s the latest development in a bill that has largely pitted the Conservative cabinet against a broad range of non-partisan experts, domestic and international, as well as the other parties. The NDP firmly oppose it and have filibustered its progress, while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced last week he’ll repeal the entire bill if he becomes prime minister. Various key stakeholders – including the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Canada Elections and the author of a key Elections Canada report last year – say they weren’t consulted on the bill.

Many, however, testified to the Senate committee, which was in the rare position of “prestudying” the bill before the House of Commons was done with it – “in other words, sober second thought now becomes sober first thought,” Mr. Baker said.

Senators appear to have listened to the testimony.

According to one source familiar with the report, it will include:

A call not to limit certain powers of the Chief Electoral Officer (who has been criticized harshly by the minister responsible for the bill, Pierre Poilievre);

A recommendation to continue the use of the voter information card, which Conservative MPs want to phase out;

A recommendation to require that robocalling firms keep their records for a longer period of time, in case they come under investigation.

“Minister Poilievre has repeatedly expressed a sincere interest in any recommendations the Senate may have to improve the bill. Our recommendations, which are the result of our prestudy, will be released soon,” Conservative Senator Linda Frum said in an e-mail Sunday. The committee’s chair, Conservative Senator Bob Runciman, confirmed the report is done and will be filed this week.

The table is now set for a compromise or a standoff. The House of Commons committee will resume consideration of the bill in two weeks, and soon after it will consider amendments. If they do not make the Senate’s changes, they risk the Conservative majority in the Senate amending it anyhow and sending it back to the House, an exceptionally rare occurrence. Doing so would all but guarantee the government won’t meet its previously set target of June for passing the Fair Elections Act.

The committee’s report comes as the Senate faces unprecedented scrutiny – Mr. Harper has asked the Supreme Court to outline his powers to reform it, while the Official Opposition NDP favour straight abolition, though haven’t said how they’d pull that off. And it comes in the aftermath of the explosive Senate expenses scandal, which led to the suspension of Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, the retirement of Mac Harb, the exit of Mr. Harper’s chief of staff, an RCMP investigation and a review by the Auditor-General of all senators’ expenses.

In particular, the unanimous recommendations include a specific call that the Chief Electoral Officer be permitted to encourage voter turnout, according to one source familiar with the changes– a particularly direct rebuke of Mr. Poilievre, who has said the Chief Electoral Officer, who opposes much of the bill, simply wants more power. The Senate recommendations also include raising the required time that robocall firms must keep certain records for investigators, from one to as many as five years, the source said.

The report also recommends the government allow the use of the voter information card to corroborate a voter’s address, as the stricter ID requirements would, experts have said, leave many people able to prove their ID but not necessarily their current address.

The Senate committee is also said to have produced a minority report that calls for, among other things, the government to back off the bill’s proposal to eliminate vouching, whereby one elector can cast a ballot if another swears to his or her identity. Conservative senators did not support that motion.

The committee’s senators aren’t the only Tories relaying concerns about the bill. In a letter sent to constituents and obtained by The Globe and Mail, Alberta MP James Rajotte wrote to Mr. Poilievre saying people in his riding have problems with the bill, including the suggested reining in of the Chief Electoral Officer.

In his letter, Mr. Rajotte noted he supported the bill at second reading but urged Mr. Poilievre to consider changes. “I encourage you to continue to engage in a dialogue on this bill, listen to concerns about certain parts of it and seriously consider amendments to address these concerns,” Mr. Rajotte wrote.

Senate panel sets up confrontation with Harper on Elections Act - The Globe and Mail
 
B00Mer
Republican
+1
#2
Really another anti-Harper thread.. yawn.

You work Mentalfloss?? Thank Harper for the fact you still have a job and that Canada's economy didn't tank.
 
captain morgan
Bloc Québécois
+1
#3
It really is getting tiring, isn't it.
 
lone wolf
Free Thinker
+2
#4
It really is.... One might think a man as allegedly educated would be capable of learning
 
B00Mer
Republican
#5
Hey, I gave up on anti-Obama threads.. Obamacare is here to stay.. just Bend Over and...

 
mentalfloss
+1
#6
My sarcasm detector appears to be broken.
 
B00Mer
Republican
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by mentalflossView Post

My sarcasm detector appears to be broken.

 
Spade
Free Thinker
+5
#8  Top Rated Post
The "Fair Erection Act" will screw Canadian voters.
 
B00Mer
Republican
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by SpadeView Post

The "Fair Erection Act" will screw Canadian voters.

 
Locutus
+1
#10
Quote: Originally Posted by B00MerView Post

You work Mentalfloss??

I think he's a stay-at-home mom.

One eye on the Price Is Right and the other on Huffpo.
 
Spade
Free Thinker
+1
#11
At least he spends his time profitably.
 
Cliffy
Free Thinker
+2
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by B00MerView Post

Hey, I gave up on anti-Obama threads.. Obamacare is here to stay.. just Bend Over and...

Back here in Kanada, that carrot has Harpo's name on it.
 
B00Mer
Republican
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by CliffyView Post

Back here in Kanada, that carrot has Harpo's name on it.

Say Cliffy, you like the T-Shirt pic I posted to your wall.. LOL

Cliffy's Profile
 
mentalfloss
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by LocutusView Post

I think he's a stay-at-home mom.

One eye on the Price Is Right and the other on Huffpo.

What does that make you? Betty White?
 
Locutus
#15
I'm a workin' man dude but only need to put in 4 days a week.

Got your vacuuming done?

* haha...found the pic...a nice juicy pie for ya...didn't figure you old enough to remember her role...come closer.

Last edited by Locutus; Apr 14th, 2014 at 03:26 PM..
 
Spade
Free Thinker
#16
I am glad my betters are miodelling behaviour for me.
 
mentalfloss
#17
‘Unfair Elections Act’ targets the youth Trudeau wants and Harper fears

Getting youth to vote – or not to – is at the centre of two parties’ political strategy heading into a 2015 federal election.

At the Liberal convention in Montréal, President Barack Obama’s campaign gurus were out in full force. Indeed, one tweeted, “A true honor and pleasure to address #lib2014 today. Canada, you’ve got something special in @JustinTrudeau.”


Beyond the love-in (and American spelling), what’s clear is that Justin Trudeau’s team of brilliant young parents wants to replicate the Obama magic in Canada. They want to get a Canadian version of Obama’s coalition – ethnic minorities, women and youth – to volunteer and to vote for Team Trudeau.

That means inspiring the younger generation to actually go out to vote. My generation has a well-documented case of voter apathy. However, if there’s anyone who can inspire youth to vote, it’s Mr. Trudeau. The guy combines celebrity with politician in a potent way. At the recent Montreal policy convention, the screaming selfie-seekers were like nothing I’ve ever seen in Canadian politics.

And yet, with the Fair Elections Act, the Harper Conservatives seem to be making it even harder to get youth to vote.

The changes to advertising will negatively effect youth voter turnout. The Act seeks to strip Elections Canada of the ability to advertise and promote voting, including to young people. Pierre Pollievere, the Minister of Democratic Reform, suggests schools and parents are sufficient to encourage youth to vote, apparently missing the basic reality of low youth voter turnout.

Youth clearly need all the encouragement to vote that’s possible – from informational sessions on campus to advertising online and on TV. We need more advertising and campaigning from Elections Canada, not less. When it comes to encouraging youth to vote, more really is more if you want to be successful.

So, taking away the ability of Elections Canada to encourage voter participation, especially to youth, works in favour of the incumbent Conservative party – with its bedrock support from seniors who do get out to vote of their own accord – and not in the interests of fair elections that engage the most number of citizens to exercise their franchise.

It’s disgraceful what the government is doing here; it’s brilliant what the Conservative Party is doing here.

Leaked memos show that the Conservative Party’s operatives plan to exploit every benefit of incumbency. Using the government to sell the party is nothing new; violating the spirit of fair, free elections with the highest possible voter turnout is a new, dastardly low the Conservative government is no doubt importing from the Tea Party renegades in the United States.

In the U.S., conservatives realized changing ethnic demographics are their electoral Achilles heel. So, state houses across their country are making it harder for ethnic voters to actually vote by restricting ID requirements, which the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has documented and opposed from Wisconsin to South Carolina. The Act, dubbed the “Unfair Elections Act” by the NDP, seems to being doing much the same thing by making it impossible for people without ID to vote, even if vouched for by a qualified elector, and by taking away the election agency’s ability to advertise to encourage youth to vote.

Team Trudeau wants youth to vote in record numbers because youth seem to be far more progressively minded than older voters but also because they believe Justin Trudeau is uniquely positioned to inspire youth to vote for him.

The Conservatives are on to Mr. Trudeau’s strategy, and so they’re taking away Elections Canada’s ability to help Justin Trudeau by encouraging youth to vote. Of course, Elections Canada advertising is neutral and non-partisan, but encouraging youth to vote, in the Conservative outlook, is the same thing as helping Team Trudeau. In their conspiratorial, Sun News-style worldview of constant victimization by so-called elites, Conservatives seem to truly believe Elections Canada is out to get them.

It’s a sick irony that a junior cabinet minister is responsible for limiting the means to encourage youth to vote. But it should come as no surprise from a prime minister hell-bent on winning a fourth term against a youthful and youth-inspiring opponent.

The consequences of this limitation around promoting elections go far beyond a wrinkle in Team Trudeau’s youth election strategy: failing to combat a generation’s apathy now will only exacerbate declining voter turnout later on in life.

That’s yet another reason why we can’t let this Act pass, for the sake of my generation’s current and future participation in elections.

‘Unfair Elections Act’ targets the youth Trudeau wants and Harper fears - The Globe and Mail
 
Locutus
#18
Fair Elections Act Critics Are Bad for Democracy | J.J. McCullough
 

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