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Why are Liberals Defending the (Un)Fair Elections Act?

Unfair Elections Act

While the Liberal party prepares for the next federal election, government lawyers are working hard to defend the voter suppression measures enacted by the Harper Government in the so-called Fair Elections Act.

“Justin Trudeau promised to repeal the undemocratic provisions in the Unfair Elections Act. Not only have the Liberals not moved Bill C-33 forward, but their lawyers are now playing serious hardball with us in court,” says Andrea Furlong, Interim Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. “The government’s legal team may as well still be taking their orders from former Prime Minister Harper, because they’re doing the opposite of what Trudeau promised. We are calling on the Liberal government to pass Bill C-33 before wasting any more money defending the indefensible.”

On March 29, 2018, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians were served with six volumes (over 2,000 pages) of evidence by the Federal Government (the “Crown”), in response to their Charter Challenge of the Fair Elections Act. That evidence defends the Harper Government’s voter suppression measures Prime Minister Trudeau has challenged, which the government’s Ministers have denounced, and which Bill C-33 would expunge.

“Young voters want to know why Trudeau’s government lawyers are supporting voter suppression using recycled Harper Government spin on the Fair Elections Act,” says Justine De Jaegher, Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Justin Trudeau is not just the Prime Minister, he’s also the Minister of Youth. So it’s doubly disappointing that he’s letting this happen. Young people and students who were angry at the previous government for trying to prevent them from voting with the Unfair Elections Act are one of the main reasons this government was elected. It would be a huge mistake to backtrack on this promise.”

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 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: http://canadians.org/charter-challenge.

The Council of Canadians has online petition with over 6,500 signatures so far, calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to stop stalling and pass Bill C-33.


For more information or to arrange interviews:

Dylan Penner, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org

Juhi Sohani, Canadian Federation of Students, 613-232-7394