What problems are the Conservatives really trying to solve with bizarre Fair Elections Act?wrote Andrew Coyne in an excellent column two days ago.
I'd like to pillage that model and expand on it a bit.
Problem : Investigation into election fraud in 2011 Election 33 months ago being rushed along at dangerous breakneck speeds.
Fair Elections Act Solutions :
1) Deny Elections Commissioner authority to compel documents and witness testimony (with individual authorizations from the courts) - a power nonetheless already enjoyed by elections chiefs in most provinces : Yukon, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.
Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand on CBC's The House yesterday :
"Many people refused to talk to the commissioner even if they were not suspects. I'm afraid to say this is happening more and more in files investigated by the commissioner."
2) The Del Mastro clause. Require Elections Canada to inform subjects they are being investigated while preventing EC from telling the public about it.
Problem : Public trust in fair elections in Canada at all time high.
Fair Elections Act solutions :
1) Governing party rewrites election law while being investigating by Elections Canada for election fraud.
2) Don't consult with Chief Electoral Officer before tabling major overhaul of Elections Act.
3) Deny Elections Canada commissioner access to parties' and riding associations' financial documentation to support claims made on their financial returns.
4) Forbid Elections Canada from communicating with public. Mayrand :
"Most reports and research will no longer be public - not only not available but probably won't be done at all.
I can no longer speak about democracy in this country except where and when to vote. I am not aware of any other electoral bodies around the world who cannot talk about democracy."
then cut off debate about the bill in the HoC, sending it to PROC with its 6 out of 10 Con committee members.
Problem : Serially violate election law successfully but then lose court battles to election watchdog.
Solution : Neutralize watchdog by moving entire elections enforcement apparatus from current independent office answerable to Parliament to inside Peter MacKay's ministry.
Problem : Too many people vote - 61% in the last federal election - especially aboriginals, young people, old people, and poor people.
1) Forbid Elections Canada from encouraging voting, including terminating the mock elections model currently being taught to 300,000 Canadian students.
2) Voter suppression. Kill off vouching *** - the provision allowing an elector to prove their residence in a riding by having someone they know in the riding who is registered to vote sign a legal document. Marc Mayrand on CBC's The House again :
"Every Canadian has the right to vote. That's a universal franchise. Vouching is meant to assist people facing challenges. We estimate that in the last election a little over 100,000 electors required vouching before they could cast a ballot. What will happen to those electors in the next election?"
Neufeld Compliance Review, commissioned by Elections Canada :
"The audit estimated that “irregularities” occurred for 1.3 percent of all cases of Election Day voting during the 2011 federal election."
and of those irregularities, "0.4 percent of ballots had irregularities due to vouching - of which the vast majority were cases of misfiled paperwork, not misidentified voters."
Problem : Parties not spending enough time and money on elections
1) Bump allowable individual contribution limit up by 25% with yearly increases to follow.
2) Bump party spending limits directed at new members up by 5% ($22-million).
Mayrand : "20 to 25% of total expenditure goes to GOTV"
Problem : Incumbents don't have enough advantage over new candidates.
Solution : See Solution #3 above.
Problem : Not enough Pierre Poutine robocalls are being made during elections.
Solution : Ditto
Problem : Not allowed to campaign on Election Day
Solution : Ditto
***On a personal note, I have often relied on vouching in order to vote in my riding, despite having voted in every election I have been in the country for since I came of age to do so. I have a voter ID card, a Canadian passport, a Canadian citizenship card, a BC health care card, and a deed to the house in my riding which has been my only residence for decades. None of these have my address on them, including, according to Elections Canada, the deed to my house because it lists a rural RR# address they no longer recognize. I pay all my bills online or through my credit union.
Just get a driver's licence says the harried DRO every time.
Why? says I. Driving a car is not a requirement of citizenship.