You shouldn’t be allowed to buy elections
March 14th, 2014 - 3:04pm
Accountability is best assured by dismissing scrutiny. That is the message the Harper government inadvertently makes every time they rush legislation through the House of Commons. How else can they justify their incredible run of closure used on debate?
The sad fact is the Conservatives set a new record for Canadian politics every time they shut down debate. The record increased again when the Conservatives called votes for closure on two bills at the exact moment the Chief Electoral Officer was speaking about the ‘Fair Elections Act’ at committee. It disrupted his presentation and showed how classless this government can be.
Perhaps closure is being used because in the Conservative’s twisted logic, democracy will suffer if parliament is able to study and debate a bill that is supposed to improve elections. In addition to invoking closure on debate and intentionally disrupting the most expert testimony they will ever hear on their bill, the Conservatives set parliamentary precedent by voting to ignore the Speaker’s ruling about one of their Members who flat-out lied to the House of Commons in a speech on the Elections Act.
In that instance Conservative MP, Brad Butt claimed he has witnessed other people picking voter cards out of the garbage and going to use them to vote. That turned out to be a complete fabrication and the MP apologized only after being caught. The Speaker ruled he had breached the privilege of other MPs, but the Conservatives voted down the ruling. They say his apology is enough.
That misses the point on a number of fronts. First, an apology after being caught is not acceptable genuine or honest. Second, the lie was devised to perpetrate a Conservative myth that voter fraud is rampant in Canada when the facts do not bear that out.
By prematurely shutting down debate it is clear that the Conservatives are eager to pass their changes to the Elections Act before Canadians become engaged on the subject. Why else would they vote down the New Democrat attempt to include broad public consultation in the process? Clearly, they are afraid to listen to and trust Canadians on this issue.
Perhaps they are afraid the public will see through their plans to use a loophole they are creating for fundraising expenses to spend unlimited amounts in the next election. The vague definition given to what is considered fundraising is most useful for a party that reaped huge amounts of cash with the help of now-disgraced Senators, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
The changes in the ‘Fair Elections Act’ make it easier for the Conservatives to over-spend and harder for impoverished, young, or aboriginal Canadians to show up and vote. The changes make it more difficult for Elections Canada to promote elections too. What is missing in the bill is an effective plan to deal with the real problems from recent elections. Those are voter suppression which relates to the robo-calls scandal and over-spending like we saw from the in-out scandal. Both those problems can be linked directly to the Conservatives for whom accountability is a flexible term.