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Breaking: We won huge changes on PM Harper's "Fair Elections" Act

From: Matthew Carroll - Leadnow.ca [leadnow@leadnow.ca]
April 25, 2014

Breaking: We won huge changes on Elections Act
News is breaking of a major back-down by Prime Minister Harper over the controversial Elections Act, after weeks of sustained pressure, and growing outrage from Canadians and experts from across the political spectrum.

This is a huge step forward in our fight to defend our democratic rights, and has only been possible because of people like you speaking out and raising the alarm about this dangerous bill.

Here’s what we know so far about the announced changes:

  • Vouching will still be allowed in order to prove address. (You need to have some form of ID that shows  your name to vote, but this means much fewer students, retirees and First Nations will be prevented from voting by the new law.)
  • The fundraising costs loophole will be closed. This measure would have disproportionately benefited the Conservative Party and opened the door for more big-money influence in elections. 
  • Elections Canada will appoint poll supervisors, not local partisans.
  • Elections Canada will not be muzzled; it can continue to speak freely to the public.

There are also still major questions and concerns:

  • By removing full vouching, some legitimate voters will be denied their right to vote, for example if they lose their ID. Experts have said this may be unconstitutional.
  • Elections Canada is still banned from encouraging people to vote or trying to increase voter turnout.
  • We don’t know yet if Voter Information Cards will be allowed as proof of ID.
  • Vitally, the bill still does nothing to give Elections Canada the power to compel testimony, a power it has repeatedly asked for in order to investigate instances of major fraud like the robocall scandal in the last election.

This isn’t over yet. We’ll learn more in the coming days, and keep you updated.

For now, we want to say a huge thank you to the 63,000+ Leadnow supporters who took part in this campaign. You spoke out, you emailed the committee studying the bill, you donated to hard-hitting radio ads, you rallied for our day of action together with Council of Canadians and CFS, you knocked on doors, and this week many of you visited Conservative MP offices to ramp up the pressure. We’re hugely grateful.

Also, an especially big thank you to Leadnow’s monthly donors for giving us the resources to take on this campaign. Our core funding comes from small $10 and $20 a month donations from people like you who believe in the difference our community’s people-powered campaigning can make. If you can, please consider joining them and beginning your monthly donation today: www.leadnow.ca/sustainers

Thank you so much for all that you do,
Matthew, Logan, Jamie, Katelynn, Julia, and the whole Leadnow team
P.S. DAY OF ACTION APRIL 26TH: The Canadian Federation of Students, Council of Canadians and other groups are organizing a day of action tomorrow, to keep the pressure before the final votes on this bill. Check out the list of cities with rallies from Vancouver to Halifax, we hope you can make it: http://cfs-fcee.ca/take-action/let-people-vote/day-of-action/april-26th/

Sources

[1] - Pierre Poilievre unveils changes to Fair Elections Act after weeks of damaging criticism (National Post)
http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/04/25/pierre-poilievre-unveils-changes-to-fair-elections-act-after-weeks-of-damaging-criticism/

[2] - Conservatives bend on Fair Elections Act, willing to allow vouching for addresses only (Ottawa Citizen)
[ARTICLE LINK NO LONGER AVAILABLE, AUG 8 2014] http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/ALERT+Conservatives+bend+Fair +Elections+willing+allow+vouching/9775566/story.html

[3] - Conservatives announce Election Act overhaul with many contentious aspects removed (Globe and Mail)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/conservatives-announce-changes-to-election-act-overhaul/article18209337/

[4] - Pierre Poilievre offers vouching alternative in elections bill (CBC)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pierre-poilievre-offers-vouching-alternative-in-elections-bill-1.2622076

[5] - Poilievre introduces changes to Fair Elections Act (iPolitics)
http://www.ipolitics.ca/2014/04/25/poilievre-introduces-changes-to-fair-elections-act/

Leadnow.ca is an independent campaigning community that brings Canadians together to hold government accountable, deepen our democracy and take action for the common good.


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