Ottawa - March 11, 2014 – The Harper Conservative gang has had a rough week trying to justify the changes they have proposed to Canada’s Elections Act through their deceitfully titled Bill C-23, The Fair Elections Act.
Every day more and more Canadians are seeing the bill for what it really is: an attempt by Harper and his cronies to suppress the vote, muzzle Elections Canada, and rig the rules in the Conservatives' favour prior to the next election.
For weeks now the Harper propaganda team has been trying to convince Canadians that voter fraud is rampant and that the changes they are proposing – eliminating the use of Voter ID Cards (VICs) and the ability to vouch for another voter – are the cure. Conservative MP Brad Butt, a member of the committee studying the bill, wove a tale that he had witnessed VICs being stolen from recycling bins to be used to commit fraud. Butt was compelled to retract his completely fabricated story, but despite his apparent breach of parliamentary privilege, his fellow Harperites voted down a motion to have a House committee investigate Butt’s lie.
Harper hand-puppet and Minister for Democratic Reform, Pierre Poilièvre, continues to misrepresent a report issued by Harry Neufeld to back his claim of rampant voter fraud. Neufeld, the former Chief Electoral Officer for British Columbia, was commissioned by Elections Canada to review compliance with the rules for voting in the 2011 federal election, after challenges to the results in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke Centre. In his report Neufeld concluded that there were serious administrative problems, but never did he suggest that ineligible voters were trying to deliberately cast illegal ballots. Even the Supreme Court ruling on the Etobicoke Centre case specifically stated that there was no evidence of voter fraud. Neufeld has even suggested that Poilièvre may want to read his report in full.
But when have facts or science ever gotten in the way of the Harper mob? From Butts’ fairy tale, to Poilièvre’s misrepresentation of the facts, Conservatives only have lies and mistruths in their attempt to justify the very dangerous changes they are making to how we conduct elections. The focus on the threat of voter fraud is not supported by the facts. There is no threat, and the government’s insistence that controversial changes are needed to eliminate this non-existent terror makes no sense.
Thousands of legitimate voters – especially, seniors, aboriginal Canadians, and youth who are most likely to rely on VIC’s and vouching to vote – risk being disenfranchised by Bill C-23, encouraging even lower voter turnouts. The problem isn’t that too many people are voting numerous times; it is not enough are voting even once.