The Conservative government’s Fair Elections Act threatens Canada’s global reputation as a “guardian of democracy and human rights,” a group of international researchers says. The open letter, provided to The Globe and Mail, comes from 19 professors from universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Ireland. The letter lays out objections to the government bill to overhaul Canada’s electoral laws. “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,” the scholars write in the letter. In particular, the changes would “undermine the integrity of the Canadian electoral process, diminish the effectiveness of Elections Canada, reduce voting rights, expand the role of money in politics and foster partisan bias in election administration,” they write.
The letter follows objections by Canadian academics to a bill the Conservatives had been swiftly pushing through the House of Commons before it was slowed by opposition filibustering and other tactics.
Among the signatories is Pippa Norris, a Harvard University lecturer who is leading a six-year electoral integrity project, comparing democratic systems worldwide. Ms. Norris said the bill would weaken Elections Canada – which she typically cites as a premier agency internationally – and is “chasing at straw persons” with some of its changes.