Duncan – You asked: “The Fair Elections Act. Is it fair, or unfair?” Harry Neufeld, the very person the Conservatives hired to report on the proposed legislation, said the bill should be significantly amended or killed because it would increase party spending, decrease voting, and fail to provide the powers needed to investigate election fraud.
There is a growing list of notable Canadians who are concerned. Sheila Fraser, former Auditor General, said the bill is, “an affront to democracy.” Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand and, former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, have both been critical of the government’s attempt to eliminate vouching and muzzle the chief electoral officer. Some 465 academics from various disciplines at Canadian universities have sent an open letter asking for the bill to be withdrawn or redrafted.
Organizations like the Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Association of Retired Persons, Council of Canadians, Canada Without Poverty, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Assembly of First Nations, and many other respectable organizations have expressed serious concerns.
Internationally, a group of scholars from the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Ireland have weighed in saying it threatens Canada’s global reputation as a “guardian of democracy and human rights.” They said, “We believe that this Act would prove to be deeply damaging for electoral integrity within Canada, as well as providing an example which, if emulated elsewhere, may potentially harm international standards of electoral rights.”
So do I think the Fair Elections Act is fair? No, I don’t.
I think it is best to listen to those experts, scholars and organizations who have no other motive than to ensure the playing field is level rather than those who seek reform only to enhance their party’s chances in the next election and make it even more difficult to investigate real election fraud.