February 3, 2014
The Conservative Party of Canada is set to introduce electoral reform legislation known as the Fair Elections Act, but will it actually deliver fair elections?
Canadians were shocked when the last federal election was marred by widespread electoral fraud, not only in Guelph but in ridings across the country. Three years later, only one person is facing charges in the Guelph case and no one has been charged for the widespread fraud.
"A federal court judge found that the most likely source of the data used to make these fraudulent calls was the Conservative Party of Canada’s central database. The unwillingness of the Conservatives to come clean and the inability of Elections Canada to hold them to account is unacceptable," said Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. "If we are to ensure that all future elections are fair, this legislation has to be effective."
According to the Council of Canadians, which supported legal cases by individual voters who were victimized by fraudulent phone calls, eight key components must be part of the legislation in order for it to have real teeth:
The result of any election that is found to have been affected by fraud must be annulled by the court. (Currently judges get to decide whether or not to overturn results, even if fraud has been conclusively proven.)
Court costs should not be ordered against any individual Canadian victimized by fraud. (The Conservatives demanded more than $350,000 in costs in the robocalls case despite having been responsible for delaying court proceedings and driving up costs.)
Use of voter databases must be reported publicly. (A judge ruled that the Conservative Party's CIMS database was the likely source of the fraud, but the Conservatives have refused to say who had access to that data.)
A $1 million fine should be levied against any political party that allows its database to be misused to defraud electors.
The Chief Electoral Officer must have the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
All fraud complaints to Elections Canada must be reported publicly within 30 days. (Canadians only learned of the hundreds of complaints of fraud in the 2011 election from media reports 10 months later.)
When federal officials fail to prosecute election fraud in a timely manner, individual electors should be empowered to do so.
- Anyone defrauded of their right to vote should be able to recover civil damages against those involved.