Interventions in Committee
RSS feed based on search criteria Export search results - CSV (plain text) Export search results - XML
Add search criteria
View Sheri Benson Profile
Thank you.
I'm not quite sure how to do this.
I have a motion that everyone has a copy of.
View Ruby Sahota Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Ruby Sahota Profile
2018-09-26 17:20
Having been a member of both committees—status of women a while back as a permanent member, and electoral reform—I believe that we should take a holistic approach and bring forth all the witnesses that we want before this committee. That's how we should do it. In electoral reform the aim wasn't necessarily how to remove barriers for women.
You may have narrowed down these specific ones, but there were bits and pieces we heard all over the place, and I think it's not going to be the best approach. We should just have the witnesses here as a part of this new study.
View Bryan May Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Bryan May Profile
2018-09-26 17:22
Madam Chair, given that we have witnesses here today and very little time left for questions, can I suggest we call the question?
View Pam Damoff Profile
Lib. (ON)
Okay. We are voting on the motion, and the motion is to include the testimony from the special committee.
(Motion negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
The Vice-Chair (Ms. Pam Damoff): That's your time.
Pippa Norris
View Pippa Norris Profile
Pippa Norris
2018-06-07 16:43
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the invitation.
First, I very much welcome the legislation. I think trying to modernize electoral administration, expand participation, and regulate third parties is really critical for any sort of electoral integrity. I speak also with my hat on as the director of the electoral integrity project.
The things that are proposed—for example, allowing child care expenses, expanding access for voters with disabilities, modernizing the processes, and in particular restricting foreign influence—are all very positive steps. That being said, I'd like to make three points, essentially about things that could potentially be strengthened or that aren't necessarily highlighted in this bill.
First, of course, is the legal framework. There's no reference to major forms of electoral reform, including things like the mixed member proportional system, which is under discussion in the referendum in British Columbia. Of course, there's no reference at all to legal gender quotas, although currently Canada has a quarter of the Parliament female, which is about average worldwide. New Zealand has 38%, the U.K. has 30%, and so on. Those are two issues that I think are still on the agenda and that need to be addressed.
The second issue is about cybersecurity threats. I do think this helps by, in particular, trying to eliminate foreign influences and making campaign spending more transparent on advertising, but when we look at what has been revealed by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States, we find that this bill doesn't address some of the key issues that are real threats to every western democracy, including Germany, France, the U.K., and Canada. In the United States, for example, the cybersecurity of official records, including, for example, the electoral register, was targeted in 21 states. In five states, Russian hackers are reported to have actually gotten in, looked around, and downloaded files. All we need is that sort of cybersecurity breach in even one or two computers in Elections Canada, or in any of the provinces, and immediately the credibility and legitimacy of the election comes into question, and you end up with great disputes. Maybe the Communications Security Establishment is already doing a tremendous job of looking into this, but perhaps some other legislation or initiation before 2019 is really in order.
Of course, it's not just about the official records of registration. It's not so much the paper ballots, which can be validated. It's the electronic records of states and provincial offices, of course cybersecurity of political parties, and of course regulating bots on social media, which are not addressed in this bill. It's not just the advertising but also the systematic ways in which Russia has tried to influence, through social media, divisions in American society, divisions in Brexit, and divisions in other countries in Europe. All of those are very difficult issues to address because of freedom of expression, but they are things that obviously the government and Elections Canada should put high on its agenda.
The last point is about participation. Again, I think the ideas here are very important. For example, making sure that people who are younger are on the potential register for future elections and expanding accommodation for all persons with disabilities are both important. However, I think we still need some innovative suggestions. Remember, the participation in the last Canadian election was 68.5%. That's higher than in the United States, but amongst most countries we're talking about participation around 75%, or 80% in some European countries. Of course, in Australia we're talking about over 90%. Thinking about other ways to make voting more convenient while preserving security would, again, be a very welcome thing to add.
None of the things that I've suggested can be done before the next 2019 election. It's urgent to get this bill passed, and I recognize that. In future, though, to think about the electoral framework by law, to think about the security threats, and to think about further forms of participation would really strengthen, I think, and go along with the ideas that have been embodied in this report.
Thank you very much for the chance to give some thoughts on the bill.
Jean-Luc Cooke
View Jean-Luc Cooke Profile
Jean-Luc Cooke
2018-06-07 12:17
I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to address the bill. The Green Party of Canada is especially grateful for the time allotted to prepare for this appearance.
A good portion of this bill is not so much modernization but rather restoration of the Canada Elections Act pre-Harper, which is mostly good, but the central promise of no longer voting in a first past the post system is unfortunately absent. I will not be obtuse. This is a clear promise, clearly and unapologetically broken.
In consultations across the country, the majority of Canadians favoured reform and a form of proportional representation. It is regrettable that a government without a popular mandate gets to continue perpetuating a system that silences the voices of Canadians who are not represented in a so-called representative democracy.
Some important modernization changes have been taken, though, but the Green Party of Canada wonders whether the government has given Elections Canada sufficient time to update their technologies, their administrative processes, and to put in place training programs. After all, a quarter of a million Canadians work the polls on a general election. We are 15 months away from the 43rd general election and nothing has been put into law.
Improvements that are of particular note are the use of voter information cards as a piece of valid ID. This should speed up the voting process and improve accessibility. Allowing young people, 16- and 17-year-olds, to register is a good first step toward having them vote. Studies show that engagement in the voting process at an early age translates to lifelong voting behaviour. The Green Party commends you here, and would like to draw your attention to Ms. May's private member's Bill C-401.
This being said, there are two items I want to underscore as being insufficient.
First, the privacy provisions are inadequate. Political parties possess enormous amounts of data and personal information on Canadians, and they are currently exempt from most of the provisions under the Privacy Act. Moreover, in a day and age where politically motivated hacking is no longer a possibility but a reality, it is imperative that the parties work together to ensure that their information is safe. The big political parties, if hacked, could compromise the electoral system as a whole. Our democracy is run on trust and the big parties are currently the weakest link.
The Green Party urges the parties to coordinate their efforts informally, and that Bill C-76 contain provisions that are in keeping with Canada's Privacy Act.
Second, more needs to be done in curbing the influence of money in politics. Returning the per-vote allowance would lessen the influence of donors on politicians, and be more cost-efficient than the current 75% tax credit system. We all know the distorted effect that money and donors have on American democracy. So, at all costs, we should be avoiding these excesses that we see south of the border.
The Green Party suggests that we redefine the pre-writ period as starting the day after an election and ending when the writ is dropped in the following general election. Spending limits during this redefined pre-writ period should remain the same as they are and be indexed to inflation. Redefining this reflects the realities of what some have called the permanent campaign. There are only two periods in political advertising in reality, writ and pre-writ.
We need to set limits to the election process to avoid excesses, but also to ensure that citizens, political parties, and lawmakers alike focus on the business of good, democratic governance, and not being constantly distracted by the demands and, sometimes, fanfare of politics.
Anna Di Carlo
View Anna Di Carlo Profile
Anna Di Carlo
2018-06-06 18:38
It's the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada.
Esteemed members, I'm very happy to be here.
I'll start by saying I'm quite familiar with the election law, and I have been since about 1991 when we had the Spicer and the Lortie commissions, the last time that any really serious study of the electoral law was done.
We also have a lot of experience being on the receiving end of the unfair and undemocratic aspects of the law since 1972, when we started participating in elections.
In our opinion, Bill C-76 is a missed opportunity. It missed the opportunity to uphold democratic principles and to contribute to alleviating the perception we have today that party governments don't have the consent of the governed. It did nothing to address how the electoral process and electoral results themselves don't inspire confidence that a mandate that is supported by the majority of Canadians has actually been achieved.
I'd like to highlight just two problems today, because of the brief amount of time we have. One is the right to an informed vote and the need to have equality of all those who stand for election. The other is the matter of privacy.
The unequal treatment of candidates results from the privileges accorded to the so-called major parties, and it violates the right to an informed vote. We're told that we have political equality because of an even playing field that is supposed to be created by the fact that everybody has to meet the same criteria. For example, everybody has to do exactly the same things to become a candidate. Everybody has to respect the spending limits and so on. On top of this, we're told that public funding mitigates the inequalities we have.
All of this is meaningless when privileges are accorded to some, and the rationale is presented that only the so-called major parties are considered to be contenders for government, and that therefore, only they deserve to be heard. Others are dismissed as being fringe or incidental. This is not democratic by any standard. The only ones who see these arguments and don't see that they're undemocratic are those who are passing laws.
Canadians see it for what it is: a violation of fundamental democratic principles that exacerbates the crisis of credibility and legitimacy of both the electoral law and governments.
I'd like to give just one example of how this time around we could have taken the opportunity to address this problem. For over 17 years now, the Chief Electoral Officer has been recommending that the allocation formula in the law be removed from the privileged status now in the formula that's in the law, and instead that allocation be on an equal basis, particularly the free time. I sit on the advisory committee of Elections Canada, and I attend the broadcast meetings, and this very simple recommendation that the free time should both be increased and allocated equally has been rejected repeatedly for 17 years because, as has been said, it needs to be referred to study.
In the next election, we'll face the same situation in which, first of all, the parties in the House will have the majority of time, and within that, the Liberal Party—the ruling party—will have the lion's share of that time, while the smaller political parties get a token, not to mention all the complications with the airing of it.
The second point I'd like to make relates to privacy. We stand with the Privacy Commissioner in believing that political parties should be subject to the law. We see no reason why they shouldn't. I want to highlight the hypocrisy in this, because even if political parties are subject to the privacy law and PIPEDA, the election law itself, in our opinion, violates the right to privacy.
The election law does not recognize the right to informed consent, in our opinion. In 2006, the Conservative Party, when it was in the vanguard of micro-targeting with its constituent information management system, used the power that it had at that time, although all the parties agreed, to introduce unique, permanent identification numbers for electors, and to introduce bingo cards, the practice of Elections Canada workers that replaces the work that was once done by scrutineers to inform the political parties as to who has voted when. They don't tell them how they voted, but with data analytics, we're very close to that situation.
The Conservative Party wanted the ID numbers so as to make data integration and micro-targeting easier. The bingo cards were designed to address the problem of not having enough volunteers, which is a problem that all political parties are facing. In our opinion, again, this violates the principle of informed consent. It is just wrong. Electors should have the right to not have their unique ID numbers handed over to political parties to facilitate uploading their information into elector databases. They should also have the right to opt out of having their names put on the bingo cards, so that parties know whether they've voted or not voted.
Finally, I want to make a different point about these developments. Privacy is one concern, but the significance of this development in campaigning, which involves tracking electors and building profiles about them, is of greater concern to us. In our opinion, it does nothing to raise the level of political discourse in the country. It's not enhancing the involvement of people in the political process. The privacy debate, which is focused on things such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal or Facebook and how it's being used, clouds precisely how micro-targeting is impacting the process and particularly how it relates to political parties fulfilling their purported role of being primary political organizations and being the organizations through which people are involved in debating and discussing the problems facing the society, and in deciding the agenda and policies the society needs.
Our conclusion is that these developments, along with the fact that there hasn't been a serious study of what's going on in the electoral process since 1991-92, requires that we have public deliberations on all the fundamental premises of the electoral process to renew it once again: how mandates are arrived at; how candidates are selected; the use of public funds; and the fact that all people and all members of the polity, regardless of whether or not they belong to a political party, should be treated as equals.
How do we achieve this? Our position is that funding the process should take priority and should replace funding political parties. We think political parties should raise funds from their own members and not be recipients of state funding. So long as state funds are allocated, they have to be allocated on an equal basis. Otherwise, we have a situation where power and privilege are influencing the outcome of elections.
Those are the opening remarks I wanted to make.
View Scott Reid Profile
You brought up the issue of electoral reform. You appeared before the Special Committee on Electoral Reform on which I sat. I very much enjoyed your testimony there.
Since that time, there's been some water under the bridge, both at the federal level and in the two provinces that are perennial experimenters in this matter, those being British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. They have taken somewhat different approaches to how to deal with it in the upcoming period of time. I would be interested in your comments on the two paths that the two provinces are taking.
I ask this particularly, because this issue could conceivably recur following the next election at the federal level. It's good to get some input in advance.
Henry Milner
View Henry Milner Profile
Henry Milner
2018-06-05 11:38
Let me add that you should include Quebec. All the parties, except for the Liberals, in Quebec are now in favour of electoral reform. It's part of their platform going into the October 1 election. Although it's not like B.C. where there will be a referendum already, and that referendum—if the “yes” side wins—will start the process. These other parties in Quebec are all committed to come forth with a proportional representation proposal within a year, if they are the government . They're pretty much agreed on the components of this proposal, which is one of the three proposals that will be posed in British Columbia.
You may know that it hasn't yet been accepted by the British Columbia legislature, but it's been proposed by the attorney general. I think it's a good proposal, namely, that the first vote will be on principle and if there's a majority for the first other words, proportional representation versus first past the post. If proportional representation wins more than half, then there are three versions of it, and the voters will choose between the three.
Henry Milner
View Henry Milner Profile
Henry Milner
2018-06-05 11:39
The model New Zealand or Scotland used.... I prefer the Scottish variant, but they're very similar. That's the one that has been agreed upon in Quebec by the other parties, with the exception of the ruling Liberals.
I know less about what's happening in Prince Edward Island. I guess they're still waiting for the premier to set up the mechanism by which there will be a referendum, but I think something will happen there as well.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
Some of us have too, but not maybe quite as long.
I want to talk a bit about process because I think it's as important as the substance of the bill. Just on principle we had a tradition in Canada of one party not changing the rules of the game, if you will, unilaterally, or invoking closure until the unfair elections act came. Is my history correct?
Henry Milner
View Henry Milner Profile
Henry Milner
2018-06-05 11:41
It depends on which laws you consider procedural laws and so on.
Results: 1 - 15 of 9306 | Page: 1 of 621