Letters: Election changes should be done right

It is critical that any new rules governing elections be fair. But calling them fair does not make them so.

Regarding the federal government’s proposed Fair Elections Act, Bill C-23, and the recent letter from MP Mark Strahl defending it: (Progress, April 11)

It is critical that any new rules governing elections be fair. But calling them fair does not make them so. With something so important to our democracy and to the future health of our life together, Canadians should be paying careful attention.

•  The legislation proposes that the party which wins in each riding will nominate the central poll supervisors for the next election. An analogy: the winner of a hockey tournament gets to pick the referees for the next tournament. Fair?

•   The legislation proposes eliminating “vouching” and the use of voter id. cards to establish identity or residence. Why?  Mark Strahl cites a quote plucked from an Elections Canada report, but a fair discussion would inform you that the author of that report (Harry Neufeld, former chief electoral officer of British Columbia) says that the government is misrepresenting the report, and that the report’s concerns with irregularities are about problems with the complexity of the system and training, not with voter fraud:  “I never said there was voter fraud. Nor did the Supreme Court, who looked at this extremely carefully.”  He says further that there is not a shred of evidence that there have been more than a “handful” of cases of deliberate voter fraud, and indeed the government’s arguments for the proposed legislation don’t provide any evidence either. Had this bill been in place in the 2011 elections about 120,000 people would have been turned away at the polls, most of them with id. but with problems establishing their place of residence (students, for example, or someone who has moved).  Wouldn’t it be more fair to improve the system rather than to destroy it?

•  The legislation removes the role Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer have in encouraging citizens to vote, to participate in our democracy. (An example: promotion of civics education in  schools).  Strahl argues for this using figures pointing out that voter participation has declined over past decades, as if it is not in serious decline everywhere. Instead of leaving it up to the parties, wouldn’t a truly fair elections act work towards improving participation and informing voters in a non-partisan way?

•   Is it fair to point out that, despite insinuation from Strahl that commentary critical of the bill is bickering from opposition parties, the bill’s critics include Preston Manning, Sheila Fraser (former auditor general of Canada and scourge of the Chretien Liberals), electoral officers from across Canada, and, as noted above, the very author of the report Strahl cites?

Whatever your political persuasion, surely you want our elections to be fair. Something as important as this deserves careful scrutiny, and feedback to our representatives. There are many other troubling aspects in this bill. A simple internet search for “fair elections act” will inform you.

Greg Schlitt


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COLUMN: Don’t be surprised to see hordes of teenagers gathering during this pandemic

The complexity and nuance of public health warnings look like mixed messaging to minds young and old

RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

Rail traffic starts moving after 60-car derailment near Hope

The 60 cars carrying potash crashed along a rail bridge, clean up is ongoing

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

Chilliwack RCMP officers find rewarding work in Mental Health Liaison Unit

Two officers are trying to bridge the gap between police and those with mental health issues

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

PHOTOS: One injured in shooting on South Surrey-Langley border

Shots reported near 194 Street and 34 Avenue, burned-out vehicle found in 18100-block of 12 Avenue

Report raises questions about COVID outbreak that killed 25 seniors at Langley Lodge

CEO defends leaked document that’s igniting queries about BC’s most deadly COVID outbreak

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

Most Read