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Results: 1 - 15 of 109
David Moscrop
View David Moscrop Profile
David Moscrop
2018-06-07 15:33
Yes, I can.
Well, good morning from Seoul, South Korea, and thank you for the invitation to appear before the committee.
I just left Vancouver the other day, so I was closer to a much nicer time zone, but I am so pleased to be here. I know there is a lot to cover, so I'll get right to it.
The goals of any election legislation should be to protect the procedural integrity of how we choose our representatives during and outside the writ period, and to support a vibrant, diverse, egalitarian, and inclusive public sphere in which citizens can make informed political decisions.
With those ends in mind, I am pleased to see that this bill introduces a few measures that facilitate those goals, including stricter spending limits and regulations on third parties, as well as constraints that further constrain foreign actors. I think these measures will help level the playing field.
As others have testified, the limits are more than reasonable, although I would argue that it might be good to extend the pre-writ period covered under the legislation to perhaps as long as a year if the goal is to curb the permanent campaign.
I am also pleased that changes introduced by the Fair Elections Act are being amended or removed. The Chief Electoral Officer should be able to play an active role of promoting elections and educating citizens.
Also, because elections should be as successful as possible, I am excited and encouraged to see that vouching is reinstated, the use of a voter card as identification is brought back, and certain restrictions on limitations for voting for Canadians overseas or living abroad have been removed as well. That will free up a little bit of capacity for folks to turn out.
I think the bill is weaker when it comes to encouraging turnout vis-à-vis younger Canadians. A voluntary registry for those approaching voting age is fine, and I support that, but I think the voting age should be lowered to 16, full stop. Sixteen-year-olds have plenty of capacity, and the idea that we could get people voting younger and forming that habit earlier in life, I think, is a good one. However, if we really want to get serious about turnout I think we should think about mandatory voting.
Finally, on the weaker side, I think the privacy provisions in this bill don't go far enough. A policy for parties that they make public is fine, but when was the last time you read the terms of service on any service you signed up for? That is often inadequate. Parties should be run under stricter privacy legislation. There should be regular auditing of data and strict enforcement of privacy standards, and someone with some teeth who can do that.
I'll wrap up really quickly. Elections must be accessible and fair, but more importantly, folks must believe that they are accessible and fair. This bill takes some encouraging steps toward that end, but it could go further and probably should, especially in light of growing concerns about the sustained decline in voter turnout, as well as data rights and privacy.
Thank you.
Jean-Luc Cooke
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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.
Thanks.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you, Chair.
Mr. Cooke, first of all, thanks for coming. Just a point of clarification, Bill C-401, is that the lowering of the voting age to 16? Is that the bill you're speaking of?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
I forget who it was, but I think a couple of you mentioned it. We were talking about lowering the voting age as opposed to just the registration age. Is that something you're interested in seeing?
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
If people turn 18 during the writ period or even on election day itself, at what point will they show up on the voter list for parties?
Allen Sutherland
View Allen Sutherland Profile
Allen Sutherland
2018-05-28 17:30
Under the proposed legislation, they would be registered as of the day of their birthday.
View David de Burgh Graham Profile
Lib. (QC)
Right. So, they wouldn't show up on the day 19 list. You know their birthday is coming before the election or on election day, so they're eligible for that election, but they're not yet 18. How is that treated?
Allen Sutherland
View Allen Sutherland Profile
Allen Sutherland
2018-05-28 17:30
They're not on the list until they've turned 18. Am I correct in that?
Manon Paquet
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Manon Paquet
2018-05-28 17:31
They could likely register at the polls and make a solemn declaration that they will be 18 on polling day. The definition of an elector is to be 18 on polling day, so they would be allowed to vote.
Allen Sutherland
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Allen Sutherland
2018-05-28 17:31
But the parties wouldn't get the information in that case.
View Blake Richards Profile
CPC (AB)
They can't be a citizen who's never lived in Canada. They would have to have lived here at some point and have a residence.
Would they have to have been of voting age when they lived in Canada?
View Nathan Cullen Profile
NDP (BC)
Has Elections Canada ever studied what the impact would be of lowering the voting age in Canada?
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