"Progressive Canadians Argue Bill C-23 Should Not Apply in Next General Election."
For Immediate Release February 18, 2014
Newmarket, Ontario - It is totally wrong for the Harper Government to use closure to speed through their proposed amendments to the Canada Elections Act that are favourable to the Conservative ruling party.
The Harper Government has a majority of the Members of the House of Commons, yet they had less than 25% of eligible voter support in the 2011 General Election
To make matters worse, they have chosen to ram Bill C-23 through the House of Commons when the media and the general public are distracted by the government introduction of the 2014 Budget and the Olympic Games.
They have drafted the proposed changes to the Canada Elections Act without consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer or any of his staff. They have not consulted with the general public and refuse to do so.
In the attached article Richard Cleroux in the Law Times, February 10, 2014, edition, masterfully elaborates on the partisan reasons the Harper Government is taking powers from Elections Canada.
Powers that when exercised have led to admission of wrongdoing by members of Mr. Harper's Conservative Party those now seeking to control them, officials of the governing Conservative party
Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to use his long sought majority in the Commons, in Committee and in the Senate to ensure that Bill C-23 will become law. The ability of the Chief Electoral Officer and of Elections Canada to identify and prosecute wrongdoing will be removed and thousands of Canadian citizens will be disenfranchised.
Disenfranchisement of voters by changing the rules for voter identification at the polls in ways which disadvantage or may target identifiable demographic groups, possibly in partisan ways, has been described as voter suppression in the United States. The poor, the elderly, students, the more or less mobile, and specific ethnicities are said to be targeted in American experience. Canadians have been warned against the danger of electoral reform of this kind by American observers of Canadian affairs. For these reasons, it may be wondered if Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act, might be better called the Voter Suppression Act if these concerns are true.
The National Media, is requested to consider, and unswervingly press, for that which alone provides fairness into the next Federal General Election.
The election of the next Parliament should be conducted under existing Elections of Canada law, rather than those changes being forced through Bill C-23 by the Harper Government.
Hon. Sinclair Stevens, Leader
The Progressive Canadian Party