The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students are delighted about changes to the Canada Elections Act proposed today by the federal government. If passed, it appears Bill C-33 would repeal the undemocratic elements of the so-called Fair Elections Act, which the organizations have campaigned against and challenged in court.
“This is a complete repudiation of the Harper government’s efforts to bring U.S.-style voter suppression to Canada,” says Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians.
The legal challenge launched by the Council of Canadians and the Federation sought to overturn provisions of the Fair Elections Act that restricted voting rights, including prohibiting the Voter Information Card as valid ID for voting, eliminating vouching, restricting the Chief Electoral Officer’s ability to communicate with voters, and transferring the Commissioner of Canada Elections to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. The federal government stated today that all of these provisions would be repealed by the new legislation. The organizations will consider next steps on the legal challenge, which remains before the courts, once they have reviewed the text of Bill C-33 to ensure it meets the commitments in the government statement.
“After years of inaction on our issues, the so-called Fair Elections Act disenfranchising young people was one more insult to Canada’s students, so we took action from coast to coast to reject voter suppression,” says Bilan Arte, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “We were loud and clear in defending our right to vote, and today we proved that together, we can win.”
The Council and the Federation are thankful to the thousands of people who took action to challenge and change this legislation, including joining protests, contacting their Members of Parliament, mobilizing to get out the vote in the federal election, and donating to the legal challenge. The organizations note that the eventual repeal of the voter suppression provisions in the Fair Elections Act will be a result of the actions taken by thousands of people to oppose this undemocratic legislation.
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, email@example.com, 613-795-8685
Sarah McCue, Communications Coordinator, Canadian Federation of Students, firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-797-6626 (cell) or 613-232-7394 (work)