New law spares Canadians the burden of voting
Photo by MostlyConservative (CC)
Thousands of Ottawa residents rallied on Parliament Hill last week in support of the federal government’s proposed Fair Elections Act.
Holding signs that read “Democracy is fair for no one,” supporters hoped the demonstration would send a message to the Opposition and help the Conservatives ram the bill through Parliament with as little scrutiny as possible.
Introduced by Minister for Undemocratic Reform Pierre Polie Ollie, the bill will protect the fairness of federal elections by modifying several aspects of the current system that have been deemed too sensible.
If passed, the Act will render it illegal for Elections Canada to encourage voter turnout and will limit the agency’s power to investigate the breaking of election laws.
“It’s about time the government does something about Elections Canada’s mandate,” said Bob Loblaw on his law blog, a staunch supporter of the bill. “The fact that they currently encourage people to go out and vote is ludicrous and a total waste of taxpayer dollars.”
The bill will also solve the problem of voter fraud by prohibiting the use of voter information cards and the process of vouching, while disenfranchising thousands of youth, senior, aboriginal, and marginalized voters who rely on them to vote.
Supporters said the reform will better the lives of many Canadians by giving them a good excuse to stay at home on Election Day. This is particularly true for the approximately 120,000 Canadians who utilized vouching in 2011.
“I would love to be a marginalized citizen under this government,” said Loblaw. “Just think: no more needing to register as a voter, no more needing to find the right polling station, and no more needing to fill out those confusing ballots. Plus, you can stay home guilt-free knowing you couldn’t vote even if you wanted to.”
For the disenfranchised, the Act also eliminates the hassle of keeping up with politics on a regular basis and deciding who to vote for. Many have complained that it has become difficult to remain well-informed and to keep up with the latest scandal as a result of the government’s assault on transparency.
“No longer worrying about elections is going to save me so much time,” said Emma Lazy, a student at the University of Ottawa. “I mean, sure, I love that Canada is a democracy, but voting is a huge commitment. I’m glad the government is finally realizing that.”
Optimistic that the bill will improve the elections process at the federal level, a student lobbyist group at the U of O called Students for Fair Elections is advocating changing the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) elections to reflect the federal model, in hopes of making it more efficient and fair for everyone.
“Students have become even more apathetic towards university politics than they are about federal politics,” the group wrote in an official statement. “For this reason, we feel it is our duty to discourage voting as much as possible.”
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