Protecting the Integrity of Canada’s Electoral System

May 10, 2018

We are just over a year away from the next federal election and only now have the Liberals introduced a new bill to change parts of our electoral system. They introduced a 350 page omnibus bill, past the drop dead date that the Acting Chief Electoral Officer set. Essentially, the Acting CEO does not believe there is enough time to implement these changes for the 2019 election. The Liberals knew this, yet they did nothing about it. In 2016, the government tabled Bill C-33, the predecessor to this current bill. They sat on it for two years, without debating it once and have now haphazardly slapped something together.

There are two changes that the Liberals want to make through this bill that are particularly concerning. The first one is that the Liberals have left a giant loophole for foreign money to be funneled into third party groups to influence our elections. After the last federal election, there were numerous reports about foreign groups giving money to third parties in Canada to influence the outcome of our election. Only Canadians should determine the outcome of our elections.

What is actually proposed in the bill will see an increase in potential opportunities for foreign interference in our democratic process. This is an issue that our Conservative opposition has raised time and time again. Canadians would not have an issue if these third parties were solely funded and supported by Canadian money. But that is not the case. Under the proposed legislation, foreign entities can contribute an unlimited amount of money to third parties to engage in campaign activities, as long as they happen six months prior to the election. This is inappropriate and it is disappointing that the Liberal government has chosen to not close this glaring hole.

The second mind boggling change that the Liberals want to make will further weaken the integrity of our elections. Canadians are required to show photo identification for a lot of things, whether it is to rent a car, buy alcohol or board a flight. However, the government does not feel that photo ID is necessary when it comes to voting. They want to bring back the Voter Information Cards (VIC) as acceptable pieces of ID for voting.

During the last federal election, nearly 1,000,000 erroneous VICs were mailed to voters. The former Chief Electoral Officer has stated that even after revisions, nearly 12 per cent of the National Register of Electors contains errors. This means that between three to four million electors are affected by erroneous information. How is it that the Liberal government thinks that VICs would be a proper substitute for photo identification? Right now, there is a long list of pieces of identification that is accepted by Elections Canada for voting, ranging from a driver’s license to e-statements and e-invoices. You do not even need to bring in a physical copy of your bank statement or invoice, you can show them to your poll clerks on your phone. Is it too much to ask that Canadians show some form of voter identification before casting a ballot?

Canada is an open and democratic country, and our elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. Attempts to weaken our electoral system are attacks on the values that we as Canadians believe in. Let me know your thoughts on whether or not Canadians should be required to show ID when they vote.