Let’s Strengthen Canadian Democracy // 聯邦政府應鼓勵投票 而非遏制投票

In the last federal election nearly 40 percent of Canadians didn’t cast a ballot. It was one of the lowest turnouts in our country’s history.  Many of those who didn’t vote were young Canadians, low-income Canadians, and others who increasingly feel left out of the political process.

As Members of Parliament we have an obligation to interact with and engage Canadians in our democratic process. Instead of reaching out to engage Canadians, on February 4th, 2014 the Conservative Government introduced “The Fair Elections Act”, bill C-23 making it harder to vote and potentially preventing hundreds of thousands of Canadians from exercising their right to vote.

The Conservatives so-called Fair Elections Act does this in four ways:

Voter suppression: If you can’t produce the right combination of officially-recognized ID, with proof of current address, you won’t be able to vote— disproportionately affecting students, First Nations, lower-income Canadians and others who tend not to vote Conservative. Voter ID cards or “vouching” won’t secure your right anymore.

Weaker fraud investigations: The bill moves Elections Act enforcement from a body reporting to Parliament (Elections Canada) to one reporting to the Conservative government (Director of Public Prosecutions).

New spending loopholes: Campaign donation ceilings will jump 25%, and candidates will be allowed to “donate” $5000 to themselves. Parties will also be allowed to spend unlimited money soliciting donations from past donors—an immediate advantage for the Conservatives.

A muzzle on Elections Canada: The bill removes public education from Elections Canada’s mandate and bans outreach campaigns designed to encourage Canadians to vote.

Passing major changes to the Elections Act should be done in a non-partisan way, consulting with experts and all parties. The Conservatives had a chance to show leadership, but instead they failed to consult the top expert on elections law – the Chief Electoral Officer – and then moved to shut down debate an hour after the Minister introduced the bill.

Canada’s top elections expert, the Chief Electoral Officer, testified before the Parliamentary committee yesterday and raised several concerns that remain unanswered. Marc Mayrand said that there’s no other democracy in the world whose government has restricted public education on electoral fraud among other things.

Canadians deserve better.

For four weeks Canada’s  New Democrats have been fighting hard to force the government to hold Canada-wide public meetings on electoral reform. We devoted an Opposition Day to it. We launched a petition and started an outreach campaign to inform the public. My colleagues and I are doing everything we can to bring public and media attention to this important issue.

Canada’s New Democrats will be moving forward with pan-Canadian consultations on the Conservatives’ Unfair Elections Act. While the groundswell of opposition to this unfair bill continues to grow, New Democrats will continue to lead the fight to make sure Canadians are heard.

Please visit our new website http://saveyourvote.ca/ for more information on community consultations in your neighbourhood.

By Fin Donnelly, Member of Parliament
Published in the World Journal, June 2014

--------------

聯邦政府應鼓勵投票  而非遏制投票 

上次聯邦大選近40%合格的加拿大選民沒有出來投票,那是我國選舉史上大選投票率最低紀錄之一。許多未投票的人包括青年、低收入者和感覺被排斥在政治程序之外的人士。 

身為國會議員,我們有義務鼓勵和促使加拿大國民參與投票的民主程序。然而,聯邦保守黨政府卻反其道而行,於2月4日提出C-23「公平選舉法案」(The Fair Elections Act ),讓選民更難投票,並可能阻擋成千上萬加拿大國民行使他們應有的投票權利。 

保守黨這項所謂的「公平選舉法案」在四個方面有嚴重缺失:

壓制選民。如果選民無法提供目前居住地址的證據、官方認可的身分證明,將被拒絕而無法投票。 

對加拿大選舉局設限。法案取消加拿大選舉局推行公共教育的權力,禁止該局為提升國民投票而設計的宣導活動。 

削弱選舉弊端調查權。法案移除現行選舉法授予加拿大選舉局的一項執法權力,改為不需向國會報告的公共檢察署負責執法。 

製造新的競選開支漏洞。競選捐款上限將提高25%,另允許候選人得「捐獻」5000元給自己,政黨也可向先前捐款的單位再募集政治獻金,及無限制地花費,這對保守黨自然相當有利。 

在國會通過重大的選舉法案修例,理應超越黨派,和專家及各政黨進行朝野協商。保守黨政府卻沒有和最熟悉選舉法的首席選務官事先溝通,甚至封殺新民主黨一項要求舉辦公眾諮詢的動議案,迅即在提出法案後一小時即終止國會辯論。

加拿大首席選務官梅納德(Marc Mayrand)最近在國會一個委員會出席作證時指出,全世界沒有任何一個民主國家的政府,會推出像這項法案這樣限制投票的公共教育宣導,及封殺調查選舉弊端的權力。

加拿大的新民主黨目前致力於向政府施壓,促其舉行全國性的選舉法改革公眾諮詢會。我們在國會以在野黨立場提出質詢,並發起請願和啟動向公眾說明的外展活動。我的同僚和我竭盡全力,盼引起大眾和媒體關注這個重要的議題。

加拿大新民主黨將推動走遍全加國的諮詢會,檢驗保守黨的「不公平選舉法案」。反對這項不公平的法案的力量正在源源滋長,新民主黨將繼續領導這個升起的抗爭,讓加拿大國民聽到反對的聲音。

欲查詢在您住的社區將舉辦的公眾諮詢會更多詳情,請登錄我們的新網頁: http://saveyourvote.ca/

唐耐勵 (Fin Donnelly)
新西敏-高貴林及滿地寶選區國會議員