The Harper government, Andrew Coyne writes, is far from normal:
In normal times, under a normal government, the Fair Elections Act would have been withdrawn by now, or at least be in serious trouble. The past few weeks have seen the bill denounced as a threat to democracy by the chief electoral officer, the former chief electoral officer, several provincial elections officials, academic experts domestic and foreign, and newspaper editorials across the country.
Thursday they were joined by Harry Neufeld, the former chief electoral officer of British Columbia and the author of an inquiry into irregularities in the 2011 election. Mr. Neufeld’s report has been much quoted by the minister responsible, Pierre Poilievre, in particular to support his contention that the bill’s ban on “vouching” — allowing one voter to affirm another’s eligibility to vote in a riding, in cases where the usual documentation is lacking — was needed to prevent voter fraud.
When it comes to electoral reform, a government needs support from those who normally don't side with it. Instead, we are treated to Pierre Poilievre:
To the detailed objections of its critics, he offers nothing but the same, and I mean exactly the same, talking points, recited without evident effort to persuade but merely to impress upon his listeners how genuinely uninterested in their opinion he is. To [Harry] Neufeld’s complaints at having his report misrepresented, he responds that Mr. Neufeld does not understand his own report. The inaccurate and out-of-context passages he had cited from it were, he told Parliament, quoted “accurately and in context.” If Mr. Neufeld did not wish to use these words, he blithely told the CBC’s Evan Solomon, he should not have written them.
And why have things comes to this? Coyne pulls no punches. The government will pass this bill,
not in spite of the opposition it has aroused, but because of it: because it has convinced itself that all such opposition, from whatever source, proceeds from the same implacably partisan motives as its own.
We are witnessing an example of collective psychosis