Canada’s largest voting reform organization has joined a growing chorus opposing Bill C-23, the so-called “Fair Elections Act.”
Many Fair Vote Canada members participated in the national day of action called “Let People Vote!” supported and facilitated by Leadnow.ca, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students. From Victoria to Halifax, citizens gathered at 25 MP offices to deliver a petition on behalf of 80,000 Canadians.
“Parts of the proposed election law that remove “vouching” would suppress voting by students and other young people away from home, low-income people with inadequate ID, some seniors in long-term care facilities with inadequate ID, and aboriginal people without on-reserve addresses” says lawyer Wilfred Day, a member of Fair Vote Canada’s national council.
Nathalie Des Rosiers, Dean of Common Law at University of Ottawa, Past President of the Law Commission of Canada and member of Fair Vote Canada’s National Advisory Board will testify for Fair Vote Canada at committee hearings on the Fair Elections Act in Ottawa, joining many domestic and international scholars and advocacy groups.
“First-past-the-post is the ultimate voter suppression scheme” says Day. “Every federal election, 7 million votes don’t count, and we end up with ‘majority’ governments elected on 39% of the vote. When the majority of Canadians have grave concerns with this bill, and a single party feels entitled to make such partisan changes with a mandate from less than 25% of eligible voters, that’s scandalous.”
The “Let People Vote!” day of action asked MPs to help fix the “Fair Elections Act” or scrap it entirely.
“Many of us are concerned that the proposed changes to the elections law are politically motivated. US Republicans have used similar tactics to disenfranchise people who they believe are more likely to vote for Democrats” said Day.
The petition also calls for election fraud investigators to be given the power they need to compel political operatives – such as “Pierre Poutine” of robo-call fame — to testify.
“The limits the Act would place on the ability of Elections Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer to promote voter participation are particularly objectionable,” says Fair Vote Canada. Bill C-23 puts the Student Vote program, which runs youth civic education and mock elections, in jeopardy. In 2011, over 500,000 students voted in a mock federal election.
Fair Vote Canada is a national, multi-partisan citizens’ campaign for a more proportional voting system. FVC’s Declaration of Voters Rights currently has signatures from over 30,000 Canadians.
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