Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23)

Hon. Wayne Easter: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the remarks of the leader of the Green Party. I think she hit the nail on the head with her last comment, “This is a dark day for democracy”, in terms of the possible passage of Bill C-23.


The member outlined a number of examples in her remarks, and I would add to that with two areas that the Conservative government has undermined. Canada at one time was seen as a model to strive for in terms of how we held elections, Elections Canada, and so on. The same thing with Statistics Canada; we used to be seen as one of the best in the world, but under the current government, we are seen as one of the worst.

I have two questions for the member. One, given how seriously Bill C-23 undermines our ability to police elections and investigate foul play, does it make it possible for a government to either buy or steal an election? Two, should we be calling for United Nations observers in Canada for the next election?

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I am going to assume the last part of the question from hon. member for Malpeque was somewhat ironic and so I will address the first part, which is: should we be concerned?
I believe based on everything I have studied, and I have really dug into what happened in Saanich—Gulf Islands in 2008, that it was a pilot project in seeing whether the use of robocalls could change the course of an election. Elections Canada and the RCMP failed to get to the bottom of it. Some of the complainants told me that the RCMP told them that it could not figure out who was responsible because the phone number originated from the United States.

Had that been a child pornographer or a human trafficking ring, I would like to think that we would have investigated who originated those phone calls. The idea that because they originated from the U.S. we could not find out, or that it was really small potatoes whether it was Gary Lunn or Briony Penn who won that election, is not the case. It is very large indeed in Canadian democracy when a fraudulent robocall marketing attempt can change the course of an election.

I believe that the failure to investigate Saanich—Gulf Islands in 2008 led directly to a more widespread use of robocalls in voter suppression in 2011. I shudder to think what the failure to properly investigate what happened in 2011 will mean for future Canadian elections.