A new poll released today shows that a majority of Canadians oppose central features of the so-called “Fair” Elections Act, known as Bill C-23.
The provisions in the Unfair Elections Act that would eliminate the voucher system, prevent Elections Canada from publicly reporting on election fraud, and cancel Elections Canada’s research and public education programs received the most significant opposition. The poll was jointly commissioned by the Council of Canadians, the Canadian Federation of Students, and LeadNow.ca.
Seventy per cent of respondents said that the act’s elimination of Elections Canada’s ability to publicly report on voter complaints it receives, including about fraudulent calls, makes them less supportive of the legislation.
“Canadians have the right to know when election fraud has been reported and if it is being investigated. That this bill would prevent this is deeply troubling to a strong majority of Canadians,” says Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “The fact that the Unfair Elections Act does nothing to bring to justice the people behind the widespread election fraud in 2011 and would actually make it harder to catch perpetrators of election fraud like Pierre Poutine is doubly concerning.”
When asked about the Unfair Elections Act’s elimination of the voucher system used by over 100,000 people, 61% said it made them less supportive of the bill.
“This poll shows that a majority of Canadians understand the important role the voucher system plays in our democracy,” says Jessica McCormick, National Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “The Unfair Elections Act aims to suppress the vote of groups that may not vote Conservative including students, Indigenous people, seniors, and people on low incomes by eliminating the vouching system.”
Sixty-three per cent said the provisions in the bill that forbid Elections Canada from engaging in research and education about the state of democracy in Canada (including the Student Vote program and publicly discussing how to increase voter turnout) makes them less supportive of the legislation.
“The parts of the new elections law that would suppress voting need to be removed and replaced by giving election fraud investigators the power they need to compel testimony from political operatives,” says Jamie Biggar of LeadNow.ca. “We need legislation that shines a spotlight on abuses of the election process, but this act allows anti-democratic actions to stay in the shadows.”
The survey found that only 27% of Canadians are familiar with the act, reinforcing the need for cross-country public hearings, given most people aren’t yet aware of the fundamental changes to elections in Canada that are being proposed.
EKOS Research conducted a national telephone survey of 1,001 Canadians 18 years of age and older from February 26 to March 6. The margin of error for a sample of 1,000 is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The survey was conducted across Canada in both official languages. Survey results are weighted based on Statistics Canada data according to age, region, and gender to ensure that the sample is representative of the general public aged 18 years and over.