Elections Modernization Act

An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments

Sponsor

Karina Gould  Liberal

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is, or will soon become, law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Canada Elections Act to establish spending limits for third parties and political parties during a defined period before the election period of a general election held on a day fixed under that Act. It also establishes measures to increase transparency regarding the participation of third parties in the electoral process. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment

(a) adds reporting requirements for third parties engaging in partisan activities, partisan advertising, and election surveys to the reporting requirements for third parties engaging in election advertising;

(b) creates an obligation for third parties to open a separate bank account for expenses related to the matters referred to in paragraph (a); and

(c) creates an obligation for political parties and third parties to identify themselves in partisan advertising during the defined period before the election period.

The enactment also amends the Act to implement measures to reduce barriers to participation and increase accessibility. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment

(a) establishes a Register of Future Electors in which Canadian citizens 14 to 17 years of age may consent to be included;

(b) broadens the application of accommodation measures to all persons with a disability, irrespective of its nature;

(c) creates a financial incentive for registered parties and candidates to take steps to accommodate persons with a disability during an election period;

(d) amends some of the rules regarding the treatment of candidates’ expenses, including the rules related to childcare expenses, expenses related to the care of a person with a disability and litigation expenses;

(e) amends the rules regarding the treatment of nomination contestants’ and leadership contestants’ litigation expenses and personal expenses;

(f) allows Canadian Forces electors access to several methods of voting, while also adopting measures to ensure the integrity of the vote;

(g) removes limitations on public education and information activities conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer;

(h) removes two limitations on voting by non-resident electors: the requirement that they have been residing outside Canada for less than five consecutive years and the requirement that they intend to return to Canada to resume residence in the future; and

(i) extends voting hours on advance polling days.

The enactment also amends the Act to modernize voting services, facilitate enforcement and improve various aspects of the administration of elections and of political financing. Among other things that it does in this regard, the enactment

(a) removes the assignment of specific responsibilities set out in the Act to specific election officers by creating a generic category of election officer to whom all those responsibilities may be assigned;

(b) limits election periods to a maximum of 50 days;

(c) removes administrative barriers in order to facilitate the hiring of election officers;

(d) authorizes the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with information about permanent residents and foreign nationals for the purpose of updating the Register of Electors;

(e) removes the prohibition on the Chief Electoral Officer authorizing the notice of confirmation of registration (commonly known as a “voter information card”) as identification;

(f) replaces, in the context of voter identification, the option of attestation for residence with an option of vouching for identity and residence;

(g) removes the requirement for electors’ signatures during advance polls, changes procedures for the closing of advance polls and allows for counting ballots from advance polls one hour before the regular polls close;

(h) replaces the right or obligation to take an oath with a right or obligation to make a solemn declaration, and streamlines the various declarations that electors may have the right or obligation to make under specific circumstances;

(i) relocates the Commissioner of Canada Elections to within the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, and provides that the Commissioner is to be appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, after consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions, for a non-renewable term of 10 years;

(j) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the authority to impose administrative monetary penalties for contraventions of provisions of Parts 16, 17 and 18 of the Act and certain other provisions of the Act;

(k) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the authority to lay charges;

(l) provides the Commissioner of Canada Elections with the power to apply for a court order requiring testimony or a written return;

(m) clarifies offences relating to

(i) the publishing of false statements,

(ii) participation by non-Canadians in elections, including inducing electors to vote or refrain from voting, and

(iii) impersonation; and

(n) implements a number of measures to harmonize and streamline political financing monitoring and reporting.

The enactment also amends the Act to provide for certain requirements with regard to the protection of personal information for registered parties, eligible parties and political parties that are applying to become registered parties, including the obligation for the party to adopt a policy for the protection of personal information and to publish it on its Internet site.

The enactment also amends the Parliament of Canada Act to prevent the calling of a by-election when a vacancy in the House of Commons occurs within nine months before the day fixed for a general election under the Canada Elections Act.

It also amends the Public Service Employment Act to clarify that the maximum period of employment of casual workers in the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer — 165 working days in one calendar year — applies to those who are appointed by the Commissioner of Canada Elections.

Finally, the enactment contains transitional provisions, makes consequential amendments to other Acts and repeals the Special Voting Rules.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Dec. 13, 2018 Passed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
Dec. 13, 2018 Failed Motion respecting Senate amendments to Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (amendment)
Dec. 13, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
Oct. 30, 2018 Passed 3rd reading and adoption of Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
Oct. 30, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (recommittal to a committee)
Oct. 29, 2018 Passed Concurrence at report stage of Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Passed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 29, 2018 Failed Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (report stage amendment)
Oct. 25, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
May 23, 2018 Passed 2nd reading of Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments
May 23, 2018 Failed 2nd reading of Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (reasoned amendment)
May 23, 2018 Passed Time allocation for Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / noon
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg North. Winnipeg is my home town and I hope to get there over new year's and see some of my friends in that fine city. Maybe we could even have a coffee at his favourite restaurant, where he is at every Saturday morning at 10 o'clock.

We did a thorough analysis of this legislation in a way that would not advantage one party over another. The bill would empower Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer to administer our elections fairly. It would give them the power to prosecute when our elections are not done fairly, and really to take control of our elections out of the political process and have that power as an independent organization.

All members have contributed to this. All members of the committee put this forward, and so has the Senate. Today, we are really only looking at a technical amendment. There is a small part of the technical amendment that just puts a finer point on the pencil to make sure that we have all of the legislative details covered properly before we go into our next election.

We are in the right place and I look forward to the vote.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am still concerned about one aspect of the bill, despite all the time the government has taken to propose amendments to what they had already proposed in Bill C-33 to protect Canadians' privacy.

Even the Privacy Commissioner said that Bill C-76 adds nothing of substance in terms of privacy protection. For instance, this bill still allows parties to sell Canadians' personal information, so it is not covered by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Does my colleague not think that we are moving a little too fast with this bill, considering that the government has rejected some significant amendments?

Also, is it not totally ironic that a so-called electoral reform bill is being rushed through the House of Commons—virtually on the last possible day that Parliament gets to debate in this chamber in 2018—and that it is riddled with so many privacy loopholes?

If we move ahead with this bill, it may not even come into effect in time for the next election. Why not take the time to get it right and make absolutely certain that everyone's privacy is protected?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I said at the beginning of my speech, 85% of what has come forward has been agreed to by the Chief Electoral Officer. This place will be able to do a review going forward after the next election to see whether there are further changes required.

We have introduced transparency and accountability and have modernized the act. We are in a place where we can have a much better election than we had the last time in terms of participation by all groups, including people overseas, and allowing seniors in residences to have multiple people vouch for them so they can participate in the election.

We are way ahead of where we were, but better is always possible.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:05 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak for probably the last time in these hallowed halls. It is an honour to stand once again to speak to what has been deemed amendments to Bill C-76. I am going to focus my speech on Bill C-76, which represents yet another failure of the government.

I want to bring Canadians back to day 10 of the 2015 election, when the member for Papineau, who is now the Prime Minister, said that under his government, debate would reign. The Liberals would not resort to Parliamentary trickery or invoke closure on debate, because every Canadian deserves to have a say.

Here we sit today debating a very important piece of legislation. Over 50 times, the government has invoked closure. I have said this a number of times, but this just shows the contempt of the Prime Minister and his team for this House, and indeed, for electors, electors who vote opposition members in. This House is not the Prime Minister's. It is not the Speaker's, and it is not mine. This House belongs to Canadians and those who elected the 338 members of Parliament to be their voices here in Ottawa.

The message the Prime Minister and his team send when they invoke closure is that if members are on the opposition side, their voices really do not matter, and the electors who elected them really do not matter. That is shameful. That is just one broken promise by the Prime Minister and his team. Bill C-76 is yet another broken promise. The Liberal platform in 2015 called for real change. The Liberals talked about omnibus bills, yet here we have another omnibus bill.

The Liberals talk about wanting to get this bill through. It is important that we get it done for the 2019 election. We have heard testimony from all our colleagues on this side of the House that this is because of the Liberals' failure to manage their legislative agenda. They are now at the eleventh hour having to push this through by invoking closure. They want to get this done before we rise. The Liberals said they would never limit debate, yet here we have seen it over 50 times.

The Liberals also talked about being open and transparent. I believe the member for Papineau, now our Prime Minister, said that his government would be the most open and transparent in the history of our country. Have we ever seen the government be open and transparent? It is so open that if one is a Liberal insider, one will get an appointment. If one is a Liberal family member or a former Liberal colleague, one will get a quota, such as the surf clam quota.

Mr. Speaker, if you can sense a little frustration in my voice, it is because I was elected here, and while the national outcome was not what I had hoped for, I came here with the best intentions. I came here with great hope for all of us, the 338 members of Parliament. We all put our names down with the intention of doing good for our country.

We have seen arrogance. It is not from all members on that side. There are good people on that side, but the front bench has let them down and has let Canada down. I am angry, and Canadians are angry.

The Liberals talk about Bill C-76 making things better for voters. I will bring members back to 2015. We had the highest voter turnout in the 2015 election. They said that somehow Prime Minister Harper was trying to suppress voter turnout, that the changes he made to the Elections Act were somehow going to suppress voter turnout, but we had the highest voter turnout. Speaking of voter ID, we increased the number of acceptable pieces of ID for voters. Not everyone has a driver's licence or a passport.

The hon. colleague who spoke just before me said that as candidates, people have to have ID to show that they are who they say they are and that they are not just nicknames they are putting on their candidate forms. I do not know how it works on that side, but on this side of the House, we have to prove who we are. I actually had to have a criminal record check as well. It is unbelievable.

It is funny. When other groups make changes, the Liberals say that it is an attack on democracy, but we heard the parliamentary secretary just a little earlier say that these changes will enhance Canada's democracy. Why is it that when it benefits the Liberals to do something, they say it is enhancing Canada's democracy? It would do nothing. This bill is another broken promise, another Liberal failure.

My speech today is a compilation of the Liberals' failures, case by case, citing critical examples. I talked about a few just now.

In the 2015 election, there were 114 third-party groups that received foreign funds to campaign to get Prime Minister Harper out. We hear from others saying that we are sowing the seeds of fear and that it is just Conservative rhetoric. However, I offer this, as I did in a previous speech. There is a website called leadnow.ca. Just shortly after the 2015 election, leadnow.ca received an international award for getting Prime Minister Harper out. I have not checked, but I said in my last speech that if one goes to leadnow.ca, and I mentioned that my colleagues were probably googling it, there would be a picture on the site where they were probably receiving the award for getting Prime Minister Harper out. I do not know if it is still going to be there, but that was one of the entities. Bill C-76 does nothing to stop this. The Liberals want to talk about how they are strengthening our electoral process and stopping that foreign interference.

There is a bit of a pattern with the Liberal government and the Prime Minister. They promise big, and they under-deliver.

I want to go back to the speech the Prime Minister gave yesterday about the closure of this House and Centre Block. To me, it spoke to his contempt for this place. Maybe that is what happens when one is raised in the halls of this place. It becomes just another hall, just another building. These are hallowed halls. We look around and think about the history. His words were that this is just another building, just another room.

Thinking back to 2014, when I started my run, I never would have thought that a kid from the Cariboo would end up here. There is not a day I am not honoured to sit among all members of Parliament. I am honoured when I see the flag waving on the Peace Tower and the one over your shoulder, Mr. Speaker. I think of Canadians. I think of the veterans who signed up and of first responders who serve and protect us. They are all our silent sentinels, yet the government and the Prime Minister have failed them.

Let us go back to the Chris Garnier case. This is a convicted murderer who is receiving PTSD benefits from Veterans Affairs but never served a day in his life.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

I appreciate your intervention, Mr. Speaker. My colleague across the way should have listened to this debate, as I have, from the very beginning, by all members of Parliament, especially in the last couple of days, because this is our last day in the House. I would challenge my hon. colleague to look through Hansard and see if some of the speeches by her own colleagues were relevant throughout. As a matter of fact, I prefaced my comments today by saying that Bill C-76 is yet another Liberal failure and that I would be speaking to the other failures and how they relate to Bill C-76. With that, I will continue.

Let us talk about natural resources and the hundreds of thousands of pipeline workers, softwood lumber workers and forestry workers—

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, a member cannot say at the beginning of a speech that it will have a general theme and that the member will not necessarily talk about the debate but instead will talk about the failures and then go through a litany of issues that are completely irrelevant to the legislation. The member knows that. I would ask him to be somewhat relevant. Just because he declared at the beginning of his speech that he wants to talk about a litany of issues does not necessarily mean he can do that, because there is a responsibility to be somewhat relevant.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:20 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-76 is about electoral reform. It is about what we do in the House. It is about how we govern.

Our national economy is directly related to this, how we function. Pipelines and softwood lumber all relate to this. It is, yet, another Liberal failure. We still do not have a softwood lumber agreement. Pipeline workers in Alberta have been told to hang in there.

The Liberals failed miserably with Bill C-76. It is evidenced by the number of amendments offered by committee members, over 330 of them and only a handful were accepted.

It brings me back to, I think it was 2016, when we were pressuring the government to do something with softwood lumber. We were nearing the end of our softwood lumber agreement and our grace period. We were almost to that critical point. We challenged members across the way, at the natural resources committee, to hold an emergency meeting, to bring folks in from the industry and to find a team Canada approach to getting a softwood lumber agreement done. We were told that it was a waste of time and a waste of money.

There are sweeping mill closures, work curtailing and layoffs in my province of British Columbia. That is because government failed to secure rail access to our forestry manufacturers. It has failed to get a new softwood lumber agreement in place. The government has done nothing regarding the unfair tariffs and duties placed on our forestry workers. We are under attack, and the government has done nothing.

I will bring us back to the Prime Minister's very first speech on the world stage. There was no mention of softwood lumber in the minister's mandate letter, no mention of softwood or forestry in the Speech from the Throne. In his very first speech, he said that under his government, Canada would become known more for our resourcefulness, than for our natural resources. It is shocking.

I have talked about how far we have fallen. When someone who crosses our borders illegally, we cannot call it “illegal”, it is “irregular”. That goes to Bill C-76 as well, and I have mentioned it before. It is about that foreign interference and protecting us from those who come in to Canada.

There are so many holes in the bill. That was outlined through the many amendments. As my hon. colleague from Calgary Midnapore offered, there are holes big enough to drive a Mac truck through. This is not dissimilar to the government's leaky border policy. Do members remember the tweet “Welcome to Canada”? What is that costing Canadians? By 2020, that crisis will cost Canadian taxpayers $1.6 billion.

Let us go back to the deficit and why that is such an issue. It is another promise that was broken by the Prime Minister. He would say anything to get elected and once he was in here it was “I didn't really mean it.” He promised that 2019 would be be the final deficit and that the Liberals would return us to surplus in 2019, just in time for the election. Now we know there is another, possibly, $30 billion added to that.

Bill C-76 could potentially open the door for what proposes to dissuade, instead of taking this opportunity to ensure foreign influence, 114 different foreign-funded groups.

I mentioned veterans. I mentioned first responders. The government has failed them. Earlier this week at a meeting with veterans, the Minister of Veterans Affairs actually used his transition, of retiring from the media to political life, as a way to understand what veterans went through because he assumed it was similar to what he went through, going from the structured life of media. It was unreal.

Let us talk about ethics. The Prime Minister is the first prime minister in the history of our country to be found guilty of an ethics violation. Then there was the finance minister, guilty. Then there was the fisheries minister, guilty. Now there is a Liberal MP, who we are not sure whether he has resigned or not, tied to another minister and some shady land deals, and perhaps money stuff going to other foreign entities. This has been a year of failure.

If I seem a little riled up, it is because I was sent here with great hope for all of us. Sadly, the Prime Minister and his front bench, and then some, are failing Canadians. It is only those of us in the opposition who are doing whatever we can to hold their feet to the fire, yet they say we are calling them names and being divisive. All we are doing is standing up for Canadians. We will continue to do so.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:25 p.m.
See context

Bernadette Jordan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, after that speech, there are so many questions I would love to ask the hon. member. However, I will start with this one and maybe I will get another chance. He keeps talking about foreign funding in our elections. Bill C-76 would eliminate foreign funding from any partisan activities at all times, not just elections, not during the writ, not pre-writ but all times.

This was an amendment brought forward at PROC by the member from this side of the House and the Conservative members voted against it. If they are so concerned about foreign funding, why would they vote against banning foreign funding from partisan activities in the country? I would really love an answer to that.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thought what I would do instead of answering that question, because we know it is untrue, is recognize we have incredible groups of people who help us operate every day here. There are the pages who sit through these speech each and every day. There are the parliamentary security fellows and ladies who stand guard for us. They wear their green hats as they are still without a contract. Again, that is probably another failure from the government. I would like to wish them a merry Christmas and thank them. It is very important as they sit through long hours with us.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Battle River—Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, we thank the Speaker for his indulgence, because over this last few days we have enjoyed, from all sides of the House, this being the last day perhaps that we will be in here. Therefore, my colleague took us through a bit of a walk of different things that have meant a lot to him in this place.

We know next year is an election year. Would the member comment on why the Liberal government now is pushing forward Bill C-76 so quickly, shutting down debate on it now, amendments that have come out? It was asked earlier if anyone could give examples of corruption within the electoral system. The answer is, yes, we can..

In Edmonton Centre, 10 to 15 years ago, people were taken off the list who had signed their residence as being a law office that the minister worked out of at the time. Thirty-some people had a factory listed as their residence. In fact, Joe Volpe, in his leadership race, had people on the voters list who were dead and buried. This was the kind of thing we were able to clear up in the last election.

The member talked about pipelines. In the last election, there were anti-pipeline groups, environmental groups, foreign groups from the United States and from Europe that put money not directly to fund certain target ridings for the Liberals, but that went through a Canadian affiliate. For example, there was a group that was listed as Canadian and the money went directly to that Canadian affiliate. As the member noted, in some of these the Liberals were bragging about showing success.

One of the main responsibilities of a democracy is to have integrity that is above reproach when it comes to elections. Maybe the member could comment on why this election is not that, but rather stacks up to the benefit of the Liberals.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague brings up a great point and perhaps I did not touch on it well enough. In 2015, 29 ridings were targeted by foreign funded groups. These ridings were listed as ridings of concern or vulnerable ridings, and my riding was one of them. Of those, 25 of those foreign funded ridings were successful. Obviously, they were not successful in my riding, and I challenge those people to come after me again.

When we talk about foreign funding, the top office has a former president and CEO of one of the foreign funded groups, World Wildlife Fund, is now calling the shots in policy. I have had fishermen and foresters say that to get in to see a minister, they have to go through an NGO and environmental group. That is shocking.

When the Liberals talk about limiting foreign funds, they are probably limiting funds for groups that might help a Conservative or an NDP get elected. However, they definitely are not going to stop foreign funds coming in if it benefits them.

The hon. parliamentary secretary talked about enhancing Canada's democracy. No, it enhances the Liberals' opportunity to get re-elected. That is what they are doing. That is why they need to rush it through.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, based on the content of the speech delivered by the member, I am more inclined to deal with the issue of failure associated to Stephen Harper, which really is no different. He really has not left the Conservative benches. Every day we see remnants of Stephen Harper's policy. There really is no difference between the current leader and Stephen Harper—

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, it was Stephen Harper's party that violated the election law. Not only is my friend and colleague wrong on his point of order, I wish the Conservative Party would give me the same liberty that we gave its members on the issue.

The Conservatives overspent on an election by hundreds of thousands of dollars and they put it off to appeal after appeal. Then they had a settlement, in which I think they had to pay a fine of $50,000 for breaking the law. Do members remember the Conservative member of Parliament who had to go to jail because of violations of the Elections Act?

My question to the member is this. The Conservative Party is so determined to prevent this legislation from passing. In the name of being transparent and honest with Canadians, can the Conservative Party tell us why it is that it does not want this legislation passed? What is specifically in this legislation? The Green Party supports it. The NDP supports it. Canadians support this legislation. The current Conservative leadership and the Conservatives have not learned anything in the past few years. Why do they not support good, progressive legislation that is going to enhance our democracy?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me remind the Canadians who are listening in of the first Prime Minister who was found guilty of ethics violations, of the Minister of Finance who was found guilty, of the Minister of Fisheries who was found guilty, as well as another minister being investigated now.

Canadians just do not trust what the Liberals are saying anymore. When this gentleman stands up, it is always, “Don't look at us. Remember when that other guy was in? It was always their fault.”

The Prime Minister stood in the House yesterday and talked about his plan that he was going to unveil as he got closer to the election. His plan? He has been governing for three years. Why is he just talking about a plan now? These guys have had no plan. They have failed Canadians every step of the way. We are angry and we are not going to take it anymore.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

December 13th, 2018 / 12:35 p.m.
See context

Bernadette Jordan Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Democratic Institutions, Lib.

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to speak to Bill C-76. I want to thank the House for all the discussions we have had today and the good debate.

There are two important topics that I want to discuss in the context of the elections modernization act. First, I would like to look at how the bill would change the public education part of the Elections Canada mandate; and second, at how the bill would seek to engage young Canadians.

The previous government placed restrictions on the ability of the Chief Electoral Officer to speak to Canadians. The Fair Elections Act restricted the kind of public education campaigns that the Chief Electoral Officer was able to develop. Since that bill, the Chief Electoral Officer has been limited to conducting public education programs with high school and primary school-age children. We are not sure how that made any sense at all.

Our government heard from Canadians during the electoral reform dialogue process that they wanted more done to increase civic literacy and to increase all Canadians' knowledge of democracy. Additionally, the previous Chief Electoral Officer recommended in his mandate to reinstate public education and information campaigns. Specifically, the CEO recommended being given the mandate to implement public education and information programs to make the electoral process better known to the general public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights. This is an honourable goal, and our government is proud to support the work of the Chief Electoral Officer in reaching out to those Canadians who may be less likely to participate in Canadian democracy.

The Chief Electoral Officer is the paragon of non-partisan professionalism. We as Canadians should expect nothing less than this professionalism from that office in these public education campaigns. However, Canadians can also be confident that Elections Canada would carry out these education campaigns with as much integrity and fervour as they use in administering each election. The fundamental issue here is that the lack of information may create barriers for Canadians in exercising their voting rights. This measure would help mitigate any potential problems caused by a lack of information or malicious attempts to impair Canadians' ability to exercise their charter rights.

At this point, I would also like to mention I will be splitting my time with the member for Halifax.

Thus, Elections Canada would now be empowered to reach out to all Canadians to relay crucial information about the election. The organization would also be able to tailor certain messages to at-risk groups to help ensure that all Canadians would have the chance to have their voices heard on election day.

I wish to discuss how Bill C-76 would engage young Canadians in Canada's electoral system. Following the 42nd general election, Elections Canada estimated that 57% of eligible Canadians aged 18 to 24 voted. This is over 20% lower than the estimated turnout for Canadians aged 65 to 74. The question of how to engage young people is one that democracies all over the world struggle with. Researchers have shown that voting can be a habit for life. If someone votes in one election, he or she is more likely to vote in subsequent elections. This is why it is important to address young people who are not voting. How can we harness a natural and intense youthful interest in politics and foster it into a lifelong dedication to civic life and engagement?

Bill C-76 introduces a variety of ways to encourage young Canadians to get involved with the next federal election. One measure that was recommended by the Chief Electoral Officer is the preregistration of young Canadians. Preregistration of young Canadians would create a new parallel register to the register of electors: the national register of future electors. Preregistration would be open to Canadians from the ages of 14 to 17 and conducted on a completely voluntary basis. From there, the process is quite simple. Once future electors leave behind their days of youth and don the legal mantle of adulthood at 18 years old, they would then be automatically transferred from the register of future electors to the national register.

The information stored in a register of future electors would be completely safe and inaccessible to anyone other than Elections Canada. The organization would have to comply with appropriate and considerable standards in the Canada Elections Act and in the Privacy Act to protect young Canadians' information. This means that risk and threat assessments would be conducted as necessary. The register of future electors would be kept completely separate from the national register, and so there would be no danger to the data if something were to happen. Additionally, it means that there would be no danger of the data of future electors being included in the national register.

Preregistration would be conducted on a voluntary basis. Parliamentarians of numerous political parties voiced some concern regarding the collection of information about young Canadians and the fact that parental consent would not be required to register. It is important that young Canadians feel comfortable participating in Canadian democracy. The fact of the matter is that some may wish to keep their political affiliation or even knowledge of an interest in politics close to their hearts. However, parents would be encouraged to discuss preregistration with youth. It should also be noted that any young Canadian could remove their information from the register of future electors by contacting Elections Canada.

I wish to stress that these measures would in no way affect the voting age in Canada. The age to vote would remain at 18 years of age. Nonetheless, preregistration is one concrete measure that would help expose more young Canadians to Canadian political life and enhance their civic education.

There is one other measure I will briefly touch upon.

Bill C-76 would also amend the staffing requirements for returning officers to hire election officers. The Canada Elections Act already enables the Chief Electoral Officer to allow the hiring of 16- and 17-year-olds as election officers. This permission was systematically given at each election, and the CEO has consistently noted that young Canadians have proven to be an excellent pool of workers. This measure would simply crystalize the permission in the Canada Elections Act. One can hardly think of a better way to foster an interest in civic life than by encouraging young Canadians to work during an election.

These changes are just some of the ways that young Canadians would be inspired to take part in Canadian elections. Similarly, I hope all members of this chamber will appreciate the work that Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer would be empowered to undertake in reaching out to all Canadians.

I conclude by saying what an honour it has been to serve in this wonderful institution. I look forward to being in the West Block, but I will definitely miss this House. I thank all members for the wonderful engagement and debate we have had today.