Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stealing Our Democracy: The Senate Takes A Swing

Okay, now the Senate is talking about wanting to see some amendments to the Harper Government's bill to undermine Canada's democracy.
The interim report recommends: 
— Removing a provision which would allow political parties to exempt from their election expenses any money spent to raise donations from anyone who has donated at least $20 over the previous five years. Experts have called this an unenforceable loophole that would allow rich, established parties with big donors' lists to spend untold millions more during campaigns. 
— Requiring automated call service providers to retain records of campaign robocalls for three years, rather than the one year retention proposed in the bill. 
— Clarifying that Elections Canada's reduced role in promoting democracy and voter participation will not affect the independent agency's involvement in Student Vote or other educational programs aimed at elementary and high school students. 
— Specifying that both the chief electoral officer, who administers election laws, and the commissioner of elections, who enforces the law and investigates breaches, be able to inform the public of any problems they uncover in the electoral system. 
— Specifically authorizing continued communications between the chief electoral officer and the commissioner, whom the bill proposes to hive off Elections Canada and move under the auspices of the director of public prosecutions. 
— Encouraging Elections Canada to post photos of candidates on ballots, to help voters who can't read. 
— Encouraging Elections Canada to provide information about braille ballots to blind voters and to conduct a pilot project using specialized voting kiosks for the blind.
The first change on the list actually addresses one of the problematic aspects of the bill, but it is one that I consider comparatively minor.  It's a loophole that allows parties to spend stupid amounts of money contacting "previous donors" - those are people who are to a large extent already engaged in the political system.

However, it does not address the key problems with C-23 that have been identified on this blog and by others.  They have not addressed at all the issues with removing vouching, voter id requirements, the appointment of polling station officials, investigation of fraud in the electoral system and so on.

Harper's Senators are apparently acting as the trained seals that Harper likes.  They are proposing a bunch of amendments to address the "shortcomings" of the bill which do nothing to address the key problems which turn Canada's electoral system into a partisan farce on the scale of elections in Ghadaffi's Libya.  These aren't meaningful amendments, this is chaff thrown up to distract Canadians from the vileness of C-23.

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