Not only has Prime Minister Trudeau broken his promise that 2015 would be the last First-Past-The-Post election, now the government is breaking its promise to undo former Prime Minister Harper’s so-called Fair Elections Act.
One of the clearest and earliest commitments in the 2015 Liberal election platform was that, if elected, Trudeau would repeal the voter suppression provisions in the act. The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students held a press conference today to call on the government to take immediate action to repeal these provisions once and for all, so that the matter won’t have to be resolved in court.
“The government owes the public an explanation as to why it is breaking its promise to repeal the voter suppression in the Unfair Elections Act,” says Andrea Furlong, Interim Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. “It’s not too late to change course on this, but time is running out for the legislation to be in place in time for the next election. Trudeau should stop stalling and pass the legislation to undo the Unfair Elections Act now. Until that happens, we have no choice but to seek these changes in court.”
While the government did introduce legislation to undo these changes with Bill C-33, the legislation has been languishing for nearly a year and a half, not moving past first reading since November, 2016.
“One of the main reasons this government was elected was because of a massive turnout of students and young voters. One of the primary reasons for that historic turnout was the response to the previous government trying to prevent them from voting with the Unfair Elections Act. Many young people and students had challenges casting their ballots because of that voter suppression,” says Justine De Jaegher, Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Breaking this promise is not going to go over well with students and young voters.”
Because of the government’s failure to follow through on its promise, the Charter Challenge by the Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians, which seeks to remove those provisions will be heard this October, so it can be acted on before the October 2019 federal election. The government’s responding evidence is to be filed by Friday, March 30, 2018, and the plaintiffs are very worried that it will seek to defend the very provisions of the act it has promised repeatedly to remove.
The Charter Challenge seeks to overturn the same provisions of the Fair Elections Act the government has promised (and so far failed) to repeal, which restricted voting rights, including prohibiting the authority of the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to authorize the use of the Voter Information Card as valid ID for voting, and limiting the CEO’s authority to carry out voter education and outreach.
Background on the Charter Challenge is available here: https://canadians.org/charter-challenge.
For more information or to arrange interviews:
Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juhi Sohani, Canadian Federation of Students, 613-232-7394