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.”
His talk, billed ‘Discussing the Facts in the Fair Elections Act,’ comes after another headline-grabbing week for the minister and his reform bill, with some 465 academics collectively calling for the government to withdraw the act and amid revelations that the RCMP are investigating a threatening letter sent to Mr. Poilievre’s home. It also comes on the heels of an Angus Reid poll that found support for the act is highest among those who don’t know much about it.
The Conservatives’ proposed Fair Elections Act would overhaul how Canadians vote in federal elections, increase donation limits and change how Elections Canada investigates fraud and communicates with the public. The Harper government says the measures crack down on voter fraud and preserve the integrity of elections, but experts – and even some Conservative senators – are recommending significant changes.