OTTAWA – Today Bill C-50, the Conservatives' new voter suppression bill will be debated at second reading. The Council of Canadians says the purpose of the bill is to prevent many Canadians living overseas from voting, despite a recent court decision upholding their right to do so.
“The Ontario Superior Court has already ruled that preventing Canadians living abroad from voting is unconstitutional. This bill is a blatant attempt to bypass that court decision and suppress the votes of Canadians living abroad anyway. Canadians should be alarmed; our democratic rights are at stake with this bill,” says Dylan Penner, Democracy Campaigner for the Council of Canadians.
The voting restrictions in Bill C-50, the so-called Citizen Voting Act, bear a striking similarity to the Fair Elections Act, which the Council of Canadians is challenging in court, along with the Canadian Federation of Students.
Garry Neil, Executive Director pointed to a troubling pattern with the current government and voting rights.
“The Conservatives have a limitless imagination on how to suppress the votes of people who don’t vote for them. In this case, expats being traditionally more likely to vote for opposition parties, the Conservatives have decided that for them, voting should be made as difficult as possible,” says Neil, “This is voter suppression clear and simple. We saw that with the Robocalls case and with the changes to election law brought in with the so-called Fair Elections Act.”
In the Robocalls case, the Council of Canadians intervened on behalf of non-Conservative voters who received fraudulent or misleading calls telling them that their poll was moved to a fictitious location, for the purpose of preventing them from voting. The Council has asked for a reopening of the investigation into the 2011 electoral fraud citing numerous court decisions, arguing that there are people who orchestrated the fraud who have not been charged.
The Council of Canadians is also challenging the Fair Elections Act and its restrictive voter identification requirements before the Ontario Superior Court. The Council of Canadians says that the Fair Elections Act is dangerous to democracy and is a transparent attempt to prevent youth, First Nations, and people on low incomes from voting.