Fair Elections Act changes a good start, but more must be done to protect Canadian democracy

The Green Party of Canada welcomes news of the Conservatives’ backtracking on some of the more radical aspects of their highly controversial bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act.

Since it was introduced in February, the bill has faced extreme criticism from opposition parties, legal experts, journalists, civil society groups, and past and present federal and provincial electoral officers, primarily on the grounds that it would have the effect of denying tens of thousands of Canadians their right to vote.

Today Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre announced that the Conservatives are abandoning a number of key provisions of bill C-23, including the proposed elimination of vouching. The bill will also no longer muzzle the Chief Electoral Officer, or create unprecedented new elections fundraising loopholes.

Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and Member of Parliament for Saanich–Gulf Islands, celebrated the news of the forthcoming amendments to the Fair Elections Act. “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians spoke out against this brazen attack on our democracy, and the Harper Conservatives were forced to listen.”

“These changes address much of what was so terribly wrong with this bill, but we need to go farther,” said the Green Leader. “What is still missing is any measure to track down electoral fraud – Elections Canada needs the authority and resources to properly investigate and to compel testimony in cases like the 2011 robocalls.”

“Democratic reform must include ensuring political parties are subject to privacy laws, eliminating television attack ads, creating fair rules for leaders debates, leveling the playing field for independent MPs, and re-introducing accurate enumeration of voters,” added May. “And most importantly, real democratic reform starts with getting rid of first past the post, and moving to ensure that every vote counts.”