Late Tuesday, MPs stood in the House of Commons to vote on third reading of Bill C-23, sending it to the Senate, which is expected to speedily pass it, leaving only the formality of royal assent. On Thursday, when the government brought in time allocation to limit debate on the bill, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre declared victory. “The Canadian people widely support this bill,” he said. “It is a very popular piece of legislation. We won the debate on it and now we will pass it into law.” On Monday, the NDP said they won the debate, rallying opposition to C-23, forcing the government to accept changes. “What was at the beginning a very bad bill is simply today only a bad bill,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said. Either way, the long, strange process by which the Fair Elections Act — or Unfair Elections Act, as the opposition calls it — is coming to an end, and the most significant piece of legislation in this session is about to be law, not quite as either side intended.
Canada: Tories open to amending elections bill, except for voter ID requirement | The Globe and Mail
The final version of the government’s electoral reform bill will require all voters to show identification before they vote, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre pledged, adding the Conservatives are nonetheless open to other changes. Speaking to an Economic Club of Canada audience in Ottawa on Thursday, the minister addressed one of the most hotly debated aspects of the proposed Fair Elections Act, saying average Canadians believe it is “common sense” to require that voters present ID – essentially, that vouching isn’t good for democracy. “We are open to improvements to this bill, and very soon the government will make clear which amendments it will support,” Mr. Poilievre told the luncheon guests. “But let me be clear on this point: The Fair Elections Act, in its final form, will require every single voter produce ID showing who they are before they vote.”
The Harper government is signalling a willingness to hold extensive hearings and entertain amendments to its controversial proposals for overhauling Canada’s election laws. However, it is so far drawing the line at conducting cross-country hearings, although it has agreed to at least reconsider the idea. Tom Lukiwski, parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, took the conciliatory approach Tuesday as the procedure and House affairs committee met to determine the process for studying Bill C-23. “This is a big bill … Our suggestion will be to give it probably as much time as needed,” Lukiwski said on his way into the meeting, which was held primarily behind closed doors. He also said Conservative MPs are “going to be open” to some “reasonable” amendments to the bill.
United Kingdom: Tories bow to European court of human rights over prisoner voting rights | The Guardian
The government is planning a draft bill introducing limited prisoner voting rights to comply with the European court of human rights, despite fierce opposition from Eurosceptic backbenchers. But embarrassed government ministers are likely to defer the hugely controversial announcement until just before a late-November deadline, allowing it to be made after the police commissioner elections on 17 November.
The Conservative party has asked a court to toss out a series of legal challenges that are attempting to overturn the results from seven ridings in the last federal election, saying the litigation offers no solid evidence that anyone was denied the right to vote. The Conservative candidates who won the seats also claim in motions that the legal action, brought by the citizen advocacy group Council of Canadians, was filed well beyond the 30-day time limit. Citing a pattern of misleading telephone calls made before the May 2 vote, the council in March asked the Federal Court of Canada to set aside the results in seven ridings across the country, a move that would trigger a series of by-elections. Under the Elections Act, any voter can challenge a result by bringing evidence to court showing that electoral fraud or other improprieties affected the result in a riding.
The United States and Mexico have not been the only places where the right wing has committed electoral fraud to win recent elections. There is evidence to suggest the Conservative Party of Canada used voter suppression schemes to help it win the 2011 elections. While ballot boxes didn’t actually go missing, the Conservatives may have flooded ridings (electoral districts) with automated, pre-recorded phone messages designed to disfranchise supporters of rival candidates. In the Ontario riding of Guelph, it is alleged by Elections Canada, the country’s election authority, that a Conservative operative using the alias “Pierre Poutine” made automated calls to suppress votes. During the 2011 elections, there was a tight race between the leading Conservative and Liberal Party candidates. False messages, supposedly from Elections Canada, sent hundreds of rival non-Conservative voters chasing non-existent polling stations on Election Day.
The man in charge of Elections Canada has broken his silence on the fraudulent robo-calls controversy, divulging that the agency has received 700 specific complaints about phony dialling from the 2011 ballot in the past three weeks. In his first statement on the matter, Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand also strongly hinted Thursday that he would like to be called before a parliamentary committee so he can offer more detail about the allegations received. His office is already investigating what it has alleged in court filings is an operative connected to the Conservative campaign in Guelph, Ont., one it believes used an alias “Pierre Poutine” and misleading robo-calls to try to suppress voting by supporters of rival parties. A senior Conservative government official said later Thursday that the Tories, who control House and Senate committees, are “amenable” to having Mr. Mayrand speak before MPs. The Commons, however, is rising for a spring break after March 16 and MPs won’t be sitting again until March 26.
Canada’s Conservative government said Saturday there appeared to have been deliberate and illegal efforts to suppress votes in one constituency during last year’s national election, though a spokesman didn’t say whether the party now thought members, or those working for them, were responsible. Canada’s election agency is probing allegations that some Canadian voters were misled about the location of polling places by automated phone calls, or robocalls, during an election in May 2011. Opposition politicians have accused the Conservatives of an orchestrated attempt at suppressing votes, a charge the party has denied. The comments by Dean Del Mastro, a Conservative legislator and the main government spokesman for the controversy, marked the first time the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has acknowledged there may have been specific wrongdoing.
A probe into “robocalls” that misdirected Canadian voters to fake polling stations during last year’s election, won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories, is casting suspicion on the results. It is not yet clear who was behind the automated telephone calls to voters in the town of Guelph, Ontario in spring 2011 that reportedly led to a chaotic scene at a polling station, and likely led some to give up on voting. The opposition parties, whose supporters were apparently targeted, pointed fingers at the Conservatives, but the Conservatives denied any involvement while hitting back at what they claimed was a “smear campaign.” Elections Canada, after being inundated with complaints, is now investigating the rogue calls, aided by the federal police, as new allegations are raised daily. At a press conference on Tuesday, outspoken New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin described the misleading pre-recorded calls claiming to be from Elections Canada as a “heinous affront to democracy.” “How is this different from a bunch of goons with clubs blocking the door to a voter station,” he said.
Elections Canada said Friday it is investigating more than 31,000 complaints of alleged dirty tricks during last year’s election won by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Tories. The “high volume” of complaints regarding “robocalls” that misdirected voters to fake polling stations for the May 2, 2011 election is 100 times more than the elections watchdog usually receives for any Canadian ballot. “Elections Canada is reviewing these and will take action as appropriate,” spokesman John Enright said in an email.