The Conservative government is stripping Elections Canada of its authority to encourage Canadians to vote in federal ballots under changes to the agency’s mandate. Legislation tabled this week sets out restrictions on what information the chief electoral officer can provide the public, limiting it to five matter-of-fact topics related to how to vote or become a candidate.party-donation limit. The Conservative bill will remove parts of Section 18 of the Elections Act that give the chief electoral officer the authority to provide the public with information on “the democratic right to vote” and to “make the electoral process better known to the public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights.” Voter turnout in the 2011 federal election – slightly more than 61 per cent of eligible voters – was among the lowest in this country’s history.
Elections Canada has put increasing effort into encouraging voting – running ad campaigns that reminded Canadians of their democratic rights. Its annual budget for “electoral engagement” is about $8.5-million.
Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative minister for democratic reform, said the government doesn’t believe Elections Canada has a role to play in boosting voting. “Political candidates who are aspiring for office are far better at inspiring voters to get out and cast their ballot than our government bureaucracies,” he told the Commons on Wednesday.