As criticism of the Conservatives’ electoral reform bill continues to mount, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre launched an attack on Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand.
Poilievre said Tuesday that Mayrand, the independent head of Elections Canada appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is criticizing the so-called Fair Elections Act out of a desire for more power. “The reality is that regardless of amendments and improvements that the bill potentially will have included, the CEO will not ultimately approve it,” Poilievre said.
“(Mayrand’s) recommendations really boil down to three broad requirements for him: he wants more power, a bigger budget, and less accountability.” Poilievre also accused Mayrand of “grasping at straws” and making “astounding” claims about Bill C-23 in an attempt to scuttle the legislation. Poilievre was asked to take back his comments in the House of Commons Tuesday. He declined, saying he stood by his testimony.
The comments are the first explicit personal attack on Mayrand, a “referee” who Poilievre insinuated was wearing a “team jersey” when he introduced Bill C-23 in February.
Since then, House of Commons and now Senate committees have heard almost universal condemnation of the bill — including from Mayrand, his predecessor Jean-Pierre Kingsley, the former and current commissioners of elections, scores of academics, and most recently, former auditor general Sheila Fraser.
Fraser told MPs Tuesday evening that she believes the bill would limit the Chief Elections Officer’s independence. She flagged two specific sections of the bill: one that requires Elections Canada to get Treasury Board approval for spending on outside technical expertise, and another that limits the Chief Electoral Officer’s communications to Canadians to how, when and where to vote.