Saturday, March 08, 2014

Alarm Bells Should Be Going Off

The Harperites didn't consult Marc Mayrand when they drew up their election "reforms." And there was a reason they did everything they could to prevent him from testifying before the parliamentary committee looking into those reforms.

But testify he did.  And, Andrew Coyne writes, he shredded the bill:

The chief electoral officer, in his quiet, workmanlike way, simply shredded it, almost line for line, proposing more than two dozen amendments that would effectively rewrite the bill.

The provision banning “vouching” came in for particularly heavy fire: while the government insists the practice, by which voters who lack proper identification can have another voter vouch for them, has given rise to widespread voter fraud, Mr. Mayrand observed there was no evidence for this. It did not help the government’s position that the authority it cited in response, Harry Neufeld, author of a report on electoral irregularities in the 2011 election, later backed up Mr. Mayrand’s stance. (“I never said there was voter fraud,” he told Canadian Press.)

As is the case with almost all Tory legislation, there is no evidence to support the changes they advocate. But putting Pierre Polievre in charge of the bill's passage is a clear signal:

Entrusting the matter to Pierre Poilievre, among the most ruthlessly partisan ministers in a government filled with ruthless partisans, was an early warning sign. Sure enough, not content with blindsiding the chief electoral officer, the minister — for Democratic Reform! — gave media and opposition members the merest sniff of the mammoth bill before thrusting it upon Parliament, where, after the usual curtailing of debate, it was packed off to committee, whose hearings will be likewise restricted (hence Mr. Christopherson’s filibuster). This is not how a government interested in fairness conducts itself.

And the changes to campaign contributions sends another clear signal:

The bill would raise the limits on both contributions and spending. All parties would benefit from this — needlessly: there’s never been so much money in our politics — but the Conservatives, as the most successful fundraisers, would plainly benefit most.

Coyne is right:

Perhaps each measure would not seem so troubling on its own; nor even would the whole if the government did not seem so intent on smuggling it into law. But as it is I think some alarm bells should really be going off.


Rural said...

As with all things that this regime does, the reality is exactly opposite from the language. Witness Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird preaching to the new Ukrainian government "[They] must continue to heed the calls of its people, who have spoken out courageously for the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law." "To succeed, Ukraine's leaders must focus on governance," "They must take steps to root out corruption. And they must strive for unity and inclusiveness in their policies."
Would that they take their own advice and heed the calls for democratic process in seeking to change one of the fundamental cornerstones of our democracy !

Owen Gray said...

If there is a cornerstone to this government, Rural, it is hypocrisy.

I used to believe that they were incredibly cynical. I'm coming to understand that they are incredibly stupid.

liberalandlovingit said...

Con's cannot compete on a level playing field. Never have, never will be able to...Coyne sees it- when will Ivison stop fluffing their rigging of the law??

Anonymous said...

"Under Bill C-23, parties would now be given records showing which Canadians voted and which did not." Quote from this opinion piece by the man himself:

Voting Chief: Elections Act Changes 'Would Not Serve Canadians Well' By Marc Mayrand, 6 Mar 2014, iPolitics Marc Mayrand lays out three main concerns to Parliament. Found here:

The one statement I quoted above can be clearly seen as an measure by the Harper Imperium to facilitate the robo-call network. Armed with this information they will be able to narrow their focus on voters versus known non-voters for their clearly successful and untouched by the full weight of the law robo-call campaign. It will save them both time and money. This stinks and that being said, I do not believe that a single political party should use its majority status for obviously a political agenda to change election laws in a true democracy. That is without public input and open debate in the house of commons. We have now, thanks to a very narrow juvenile (Marked by immaturity; childish: juvenile behavior.) minded want to be dictator, gone over the edge of no return marked 'slippery slope' DO NOT ENTER.


Owen Gray said...

They suffer from tunnel vision, Loving It. They survive because there are a lot of people who live in the same tunnel.

Owen Gray said...

They know, Mogs, that they will only survive if they rig the game. The objective of the bill is to tilt the playing field in their favour.

Lorne said...

It seems to me, Owen, that given the odious nature of the Fair Elections Act, both Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair should be stating emphatically and unequivocally that should they form the government in 2015, they will repeal it. I am not aware that either has thus far made such a declaration.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne. Mulcair has questioned provisions of the act.

But it is now imperative that both men make Sherman statements.