At this very moment the Harper Conservatives are shutting down democratic debate on their so-called "Fair Elections Act" and trying to ram the 242-page bill through Parliament only three days after it was tabled.
In drafting their electoral reform bill, the Conservatives refused to consult with Elections Canada, with other political parties and, most importantly, with you and me. Now they're rushing to make it law without any public consultations despite the serious harm the reforms pose to voters' rights and our democracy.
Does this sound like the actions of a party that's concerned about your vote?
Now the good news. There's still a chance we can stop this – but it requires bold action from all of us right now.
1. This coming Monday, the Council of Canadians will table our Democracy 24/7 Petition in the House of Commons in an urgent intervention on behalf of voters across the country! There are deep fractures within the Conservative Party that make this bill vulnerable, but I need your help. Please sign the petition now and we'll take your voice to Parliament Hill this Monday!
2. Join us on Parliament Hill on Monday, February 10 for a mass call-in to Members of Parliament to stop the Unfair Elections Act. If you can't be there in person, including if you are outside Ottawa, join the synchronized action by calling the Conservative MP closest to your riding from wherever you are from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.
Better termed the "Unfair Elections Act," this bill fails voters in several serious ways by:
Stripping Elections Canada of its independent power to investigate fraudulent activity like the fraud we saw in the robocall scandal. Investigation into this type of fraud would now be under federal oversight and susceptible to political interference.
Making it illegal for Elections Canada to encourage people to vote and shutting down its vital voter education and outreach programs, and making it illegal for Elections Canada to even notify voters of fraudulent activity.
- Bringing in the U.S. Republican tactic of requiring people to present two pieces of photo ID in order to vote – making it more difficult for youth, senior and aboriginal voters to cast their ballots.
And there are even more serious problems. Perhaps the most dangerous element of the bill isn't what's in it – but what's not.
While on the surface the proposed new legislation appears to clamp down on fraudulent robocalls, the devil is in the details. Nothing in the act prevents another "Pierre Poutine" from perpetrating widespread voter suppression or electoral fraud. Nor does the act hold political parties responsible when their voter databases are used for fraudulent activity.
This isn't the comprehensive electoral reform Canadians deserve, and it's far from "fair." With your help, we'll pressure MPs to vote this bill down.
The Council of Canadians, together with democracy defenders like you, came together to make sure the robocall scandal wasn't swept under the rug. We fought tirelessly, and in the end helped to achieve the landmark legal ruling that proved widespread fraud happened, and pointed directly to the Conservative Party's database as the source.
I know we come together again to stop this bill and protect our democracy.
Please sign the petition now.
With hope and resolve,