moved for leave to introduce Bill C-594, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill that I believe will improve democracy by expanding access to voting in Canada. This bill would expand the hours of voting in federal elections from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in every province and territory.
First, this is an important measure to standardize voting hours across the country. For example, currently voters in British Columbia vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., whereas voters in Ontario have until 9:30 p.m. to cast their ballots. Most important, the bill would improve the ability of every Canadian to exercise his or her democratic choice.
Voter turnout in federal elections has been declining steadily since the mid-1980s. In the most recent election, voter participation hit an all-time low of 58.8%. More Canadians did not vote than cast ballots for the Conservatives and Liberals combined.
There are many reasons for declining turnout but one of them is certainly the barriers people face to voting. Canadians lead lives that are busier than ever. There are single parents and families with two working parents. There are seniors who must rely on others to get them to the polls.
Our democracy is valuable. It is worth protecting. Expanding voting hours is a small but important step and I hope all members of the House will support it.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)