Reader sounds off on Fair Elections Act

Several news items about the Quebec election in regards to number of people being denied their right to vote and Robert Fife’s interview with Minister Pierre Poilievre and then Tom Clark’s interview with Mr. Poilievre have raised some questions.

We have a right to vote, and many feel as I do an obligation to vote, not as some will say; it is only a privilege to vote.

The Quebec election disenfranchising of voters appears skewed against Anglophones and Allophones who historically are less likely to vote for the current governing party, Parti Quebecois.

Minister Poilievre is ramming through Parliament a bill called the ‘Fair Elections Act’ that seems to be anything but fair and could disenfranchise (a reported) 520,000 voters in somewhat similar fashion as the current Quebec election.

Opposition parties are against this bill, as expected, but so are returning officers, past and present.

Provincial, federal, national, international, academics, watch dogs, democracy societies and political advocates have all come out against this bill.

The 520,000 disenfranchised voters will come about from the end of vouching and the end of voting cards used for ID. These voters by the way historically do not vote Conservative.

The bill will see the incumbent party pick the deputy returning officer, the returning officer and the poll supervisors, so the deck will be stacked against non-incumbent voters.

This bill prevents Elections Canada from encouraging voters, this bill will not mandate testimony, this bill as it stands favours the Conservatives and is being presented as something that it is not with the arrogant and patronizing manner to be expected from a dictatorship in a third world country.

This bill contains measures you will not find in developing democracies. This bill will lower our standing in the democratic societies. Robert Fife of CTV and Tom Clark of Global TV made the arguments that everyone is against this bill except some Conservatives.

They ask how a party can bring forward a bill that affects our democratic rights, that diminishes our democracy without consulting the opposition, the experts, the public, and the history books?

How can they ram it through with imposed deadlines and time allocations when it trifles with the very basis of our democracy?

My hope is that there are enough members on the committee who are not simply party loyalists but are true believers in our democracy, who will listen to the witnesses, the experts, the often misquoted and misconstrued authors of authoritative reports, to make the amendments and recommendations necessary to uphold our basic democratic rights.

Will there be enough members of parliament who can see through their party’s lenses and give this bill the scrutiny it deserves and have the strength to vote against it, if that is what it truly deserves? I often wonder what kind of personal convictions MPs have if any?

Will the Upper House give it the sober second thought it may need? Will the Senate give it independent study or will it toe the party line as dictated by the PMO and Pierre Poilievre?

The Quebec election is an eye-opener, throw in revelations about Alberta’s former Premier and toss in Senate and federal scandals and you are less likely to feel like voting, unless you are a hard-core party member or a political junkie.

When a governing party sits at 28% in the polls and the third place party is gaining momentum towards 40% and majority territory, it forces the Conservatives to take drastic actions to make it harder to lose the next election.

They ignore ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ and they concentrate on ‘whatever it takes to win’. They forgot about governing as they were elected to do, and concentrated on partisan politics. They have forgotten their responsibilities but are only interested in the perks and privileges of being in power.

If this bill passes, unamended, and if the actions in Quebec are any indication, how many of us will be kept from voting in the next federal election? Will our member of parliament represent us in this matter or the PMO?

Will our MP listen to the experts or to Minister Poilievre? Will our senators investigate the issues and accusations or rubber stamp the bill?

This goes beyond keeping Mr. Harper in office, this goes beyond cheap partisan politics and this goes beyond the perks and privileges of being in power.

This goes deep down to our democratic rights and our obligations to our fellow citizens, our children and their children and to the honor of our ancestors to make sure this is done right.

We are adults. Do not patronize us, do not talk at us.

Talk with us and we can correct mistakes and find solutions and prevent subversion of our democratic process and keep what is happening in Quebec from reoccurring or happening here.

Give us a true Fair Elections Act and let us help in drafting it.

Garfield Marks

Red Deer

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