Greens disappointed in Speaker’s ruling

House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has rejected Green Party Leader Elizabeth May’s Point of Order on the amendment process for the Conservatives’ Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act.

After Question Period yesterday, May rose on a Point of Order to state that according to Parliamentary rules and procedures, MPs from smaller parties and independent MPs have a right to present amendments at report stage, because they are not allowed to be full members of parliamentary committees.

Today, the Speaker upheld the decision of the House committee tasked with studying Bill C-23 to deny the Green Leader the right to present her amendments.

“I am profoundly disappointed by today’s ruling,” said the MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “This decision undermines the ability of MPs from smaller parties and independent MPs to move amendments, our ability to improve legislation, and our ability to work on behalf of our constituents.”

Added May: “As the so-called Fair Elections Act is rammed through Parliament with debate limited at every turn, Parliament itself is diminished – Indeed, so is our democracy. Canadians need to remember that the opportunity to make this bill a positive step forward were rebuffed. The public outcry led to a bill that is less dreadful, but it is a far cry from the reforms Canadians have a right to demand.”

During Committee study of the Fair Elections Act, the Green Party attempted to present 75 amendments to the bill. These amendments included reversing the bill’s proposed restrictions on vouching, increasing the transparency and accountability for voter contact calling by political parties, strengthening the power of Elections Canada officials to communicate with the public and to investigate electoral offenses, and establishing formal rules for televised election debates.