Letters: Strahl defends elections act

Canadians expect that our federal elections will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

I’m writing today to provide some balance to your recent story on the Fair Elections Act, as I was not contacted by the Chilliwack Progress to comment on the Act, the protest at my office, or the assertions made by my political opponents.

First, I respect the right of citizens to make their views known and think it is a sign of a healthy democracy.

I will leave it to your readers to judge for themselves just how “non-partisan” the protest was, as claimed by the organizers, when said organizers and spokespersons are the ex-NDP MLA and the president of the local Liberal Party of Canada riding association (appearing complete with Liberal scarf in your photo).  I don’t think that the involvement of left-wing activist organizations such as leadnow.org, the Council of Canadians or the Canadian Federation of Students helps make their case either.

Partisan rhetoric aside, the Fair Elections Act will ensure just that – fair elections. Our government believes, and we think most Canadians agree, that if you want to vote in a federal election that you should be able to prove you are who you say you are. Voters will be able to do so using 39 separate pieces of ID, which include everything from a drivers’ license, a BC Care Card, a utility bill, a student card, a hospital bracelet, a debit or credit card, an Indian status card and many, many others.  You can’t sign a book out of the public library without a library card (which, by the way is also acceptable ID at a voting station) so why should we accept that people should be able to show up at a polling station without proof of who they are and where they live?

The Fair Elections Act will also ensure that Elections Canada does a better job of informing Canadians of when and where to vote, and what forms of ID will be required to receive a ballot.

Finally, the Fair Elections Act will ensure that those who try to game the system are subjected to tougher penalties, and that the investigations will be handled by a truly independent Commissioner of Elections, who will now report directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions. This means that he or she will have sharper teeth, a broader reach, and a freer hand than is currently the case under the Elections Act.

Canadians expect that our federal elections will be conducted in a fair and transparent manner. They expect that only those who are entitled to vote are allowed to vote, and they expect those who break election laws to be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law.  That’s what Canadians will get with the Fair Elections Act.

Mark Strahl, MP

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon