Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Bill C-23: Accountability for Thee Not For Me

It's not exactly news that Harper has never liked Elections Canada.  In fact, it's less than news.  His outraged utterances about Elections Canada when he was head of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) in the 1990s set the tone for the content of Bill C-23.
“The jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control.” 
In 2001, Stephen Harper was president of the National Citizens Coalition. That was his opening line in a fundraising letter. 
His loathing for the election overseers was almost pathological, recalls Gerry Nicholls, the conservative commentator who worked with Mr. Harper at the NCC. It was a “blood feud,” he says, one that appears to be “never ending.”
One would have to be blind not to see the blatant and partisan attack on Elections Canada that Bill C-23 so clearly embodies.  It is designed to render it all but impossible for Elections Canada to investigate electoral fraud - in particular of the kind that has been perpetrated by the Harper Conservatives; it constrains the ability of Elections Canada to communicate with the people of Canada at all; it makes the appointment of polling station overseers the domain of incumbent MPs.

There is no coherent response to these criticisms from the Harper Government.  In fact, when so many knowledgeable and experienced people have criticized this bill for the obvious problems in it, it comes as no big surprise that the Conservatives have turned to attacking the message bearers:
“His recommendations really boil down to three broad requirements for him,” Poilievre told the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee as it launched a “pre-study” of the bill before the House of Commons considers amendments or passes it. 
“He wants more power, a bigger budget and less accountability.”
Considering the damage that this bill does to holding our politicians and their parties accountable for their antics during an election, it seems more and more clear that the party who promised Canadians greater accountability and transparency in government is in fact delivering quite the opposite.

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