House of Commons Hansard #37 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was tax.

Topics

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

It being 1 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-28.

Call in the members.

And the Clerk having announced the results of the vote:

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Redman Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Despite his best efforts, the member for West Nova did not make it to the chamber before the question was put. Despite the fact that he would love to be registered as voting against the bill, his vote should probably not be counted.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, they are missing about another 100 members in the House.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, that would be one less vote against more money for Nova Scotia.

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Harper Calgary Southwest, AB

Mr. Speaker, since the Liberal whip indicated that the member for West Nova was delayed, I wonder how much further delayed the other 100 members are? How far away are they?

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #30

Budget and Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2007
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Order, please. Obviously the Christmas spirit has gripped members in matters procedural.

I declare the motion carried.

(Bill read the third time and passed)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-18, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (verification of residence), be read the third time and passed.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Andrew Scheer

When the recorded division was put, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay had concluded his speech. There now remains 10 minutes for questions and comments.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Timmins—James Bay for the incredible work that he did at the committee in trying to correct the serious flaws in the bill.

Bill C-18 has a bad history. It started with Bill C-31 when the government moved on legislation that was supposedly based on incidents of voter fraud. I was at some of those committee meetings where we asked questions on whether there was voter fraud going on across the country. Elections Canada told us that there were only isolated incidents and yet that original bill was brought in to a crushing effect. Hundreds of thousands of people, including in my own community of East Vancouver, are now disenfranchised as a result of the original bill and would still be disenfranchised as a result of Bill C-18 that is before us today.

I want to thank the hon. member for the valiant efforts that he made in committee to ensure that some witnesses were allowed to point out the serious flaws in this process and in this bill. However, it seems that this has fallen on deaf ears. Not only has the government been in denial about the impact of this bill, but so has the official opposition and the BQ.

It is quite stunning to see that other parties in this House have refused to acknowledge the disastrous impact of this bill and the impact it will have on people in urban areas, as well as rural areas, but because the issue in urban areas was never addressed we are now disenfranchising people.

I would like to ask the hon. member to comment from the point of view of what he heard from the witnesses and what he will see as the impact of this bill on people in urban areas.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go to the source itself. We had four witnesses give direct testimony to this and they were given two minutes to speak. This is actually what their instructions were. The chair said:

...I'm going to give each witness no more than two minutes to introduce yourselves, and, if you choose, to provide us with an opening statement. That will allow members more time to ask questions that are very specific....

Of course, the punchline was that the Bloc, the Liberals and the Conservatives were all lined up not to ask any questions. Therefore, our chair told our witnesses to introduce themselves and then to sit and wait for questions.

Mr. Ian Boyko, government relations coordinator with the Canadian Federation of Students, said:

I'm going to abandon my remarks today, because two minutes isn't enough to even touch on some of the things we have concerns with.

What I will flag for the committee is that my members are having great difficulty understanding the rush that was involved with Bill C-31 in the spring and now the rush that's involved with Bill C-18 today when there are so many flaws in the Elections Act that prevent students and those with transient addresses from registering to vote.

He went on to say that the bill “will ensure that tens of thousands of students won't be able to meet the Elections Act requirements in the upcoming federal election”.

He continued by saying:

Like I said, we have serious concerns about the way students are being alienated from this process, and why the rush on rural voters and not the rush on other very important voting populations that were ignored in Bill C-31 and that are also ignored in Bill C-18.

Not one member of the other parties asked Mr. Boyko a question. They were not interested in that testimony.

I could go on and on from this dismal day in committee that shows members were not doing due diligence. Our fundamental job is to ensure that due diligence is always done.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I respect my colleague's intervention on this topic and his understanding of the issues here, and I share his concern. I have heard it time and again over the last number of elections about the preparation of voters lists and the departure from enumeration. We know that the last enumeration was in 1997.

I had an incident in my riding where one community was voting in the poll in the adjacent community and vice versa. There is always contention around this but I know positive steps have been made in advance polling.

The member brought forward some very significant issues. If he could fill me in on when Bill C-31 was passed, I believe the member for Timmins—James Bay was on that committee, would he or his party have had the opportunity to tender a dissenting report at that time?

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, my colleague, in representing an area like Cape Breton, will know the problems. I do not know where Elections Canada gets its maps from sometimes but I know that in my riding people are sent to polling stations 40 or 50 kilometres up the road. The result of that is that they simply do not vote or, if they do try to vote in their own town, they are told they cannot even though they have been in that town their whole life, and they end up not voting. That is a very serious issue.

When Bill C-31 was brought forward, our party brought forward a number of amendments to try to make the bill workable because at the end of the day, as I keep repeating, our job is to make legislation that works and that is practical.

When we found that there was not that much interest in addressing the issues we were raising, the fact that numerous people would not meet this new requirement and we needed to fix the problem, we ended up voting against that bill because we felt that it would come back to haunt us. It has already come back to haunt us twice.

The other astounding testimony that was given just the other day on Bill C-18 by Jim Quail was that this was now facing a charter challenge. It was going to court. Again, no one seemed interested in asking him any questions about the fact that we might get legislation that gets its rear-end kicked all over the courts. However, I asked him questions and there was a clear legal precedent about any interference in the right to vote.

Once again, if we are going to make laws, we need to ensure they stand up to scrutiny and the test of time. Unfortunately, Bill C-18 could have done it, and we were certainly willing to work at it, but at the end of the day I think we will be back to square one. We will still have problems with the way the vote has come down.

Canada Elections Act
Government Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from northern Ontario for his work on this file having been the member for the New Democratic Party who was on the committee for Bill C-31. I understand his frustration when we have a bill that is supposed to encourage franchise, or at least the integrity and that is what the government would say and the other parties support it, and ends up doing the opposite. It is very frustrating.

We put forward amendments to make sure that every Canadian who is eligible could vote. We put forward the idea of universal suffrage. We believe fundamentally that there should be a universal commitment by any government to have door to door enumerations. We called it universal enumeration for universal suffrage.

We asked for a statutory declaration for voters. We asked for a change in how voter cards are distributed. They should be put in envelopes addressed to the voters, so that there would be no problem with cards lying around.

All of those ideas that we put forward were rejected. It is our submission that we do that first before we meddle with things like putting birth dates on voter's lists and sharing them with political parties so that they can use them for their own purposes.

My question is this. What is it that we can do to fix the bill, so that we do not come back in another couple months having to fix yet another flawed piece of legislation?