Elizabeth May to table significant amendments to Fair Elections Act

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands will present some of her party’s 75 proposed amendments to Bill C-23, the Conservatives’ so-called Fair Elections Act at today’s meeting of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee.

The amendments are focused on reversing the Conservatives’ proposed restrictions on vouching, increasing the transparency and accountability for voter contact calling by political parties, and strengthening the power of Elections Canada officials to communicate with the public and to investigate electoral offenses.

The Bill’s sponsor, Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre, announced last week that the Conservatives would be abandoning a number of the bill’s more contentious provisions, including the vouching restrictions.

May argues that these planned amendments do not go far enough.

“Elections Canada officials need to be empowered to properly investigate electoral offenses, to compel testimony, and to effectively communicate with the public,” said May.

As part of their proposed amendments, the Green Party is calling for the creation of a voter contact Code of Practice that would make political parties responsible for the use of their databases, and for increasing the minimum time for maintaining voter contact records to 5 years following elections.

As recommended by Democracy Watch, the Party is also seeking to amend procedures around televised election debates by mandating that they be supervised by the Chief Electoral Officer, that all parties that won at least 5 per cent of the vote or had a candidate elected be allowed to participate, and that all broadcasters will broadcast the debates.

“After our party’s experience in the 2011 leaders debates, it is clear that our leaders debates must have rules, and that those rules must be fair,” said May.

The Committee begins three days of clause-by-clause consideration of C-23 today. They are expected to conclude their study of this highly controversial bill on Thursday.