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

October 30th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I just learned a new expression today. It feels good that we can still learn after all these years. My friend from Elmwood—Transcona just described the Liberal question as an “angry softball” that was just thrown to the Conservatives, because in his vehemence, my friend from Winnipeg North just asked the Conservatives, in an angry way, if they do not support the bill. No, they do not.

It was the Conservatives who mucked with our election process around vouching, the idea that a Canadian who has the ID and is on the records and rolls could vouch for another Canadian who is missing some of the ID requirements. My question is this, though. The Liberals claim that this is what they are trying to fix to allow Canadians to vouch for others. However, there is a strange piece in Bill C-76. A Canadian who is just one polling station over, voting in the same high school gym but on a voter roll that is different from a neighbour's, could not vouch for that neighbour. We thought that was just a technical problem. One can imagine that scenario happening, someone saying, “I know my friend from across the street. I would like to vouch for him. Here's my ID, everything is good.” Under Bill C-76, one would not be allowed to because of a tweak in the bill.

We tried to fix that mistake, and the Liberals voted against it. The parliamentary secretary leaned down and told her colleagues not to vote for it. I wonder if my Conservative friend can understand the Liberals' motivation, if what they are trying to fix is enfranchisement and allowing people who live in the same community to vouch for one another.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 10:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Pat Kelly Conservative Calgary Rocky Ridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I certainly would never profess to ever get into the motivation of the member for Winnipeg North and what he might have meant by that.

I want to restate this, because I have heard it in debate, mostly from the Liberals but now from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley. There is the assertion that somehow Conservatives do not want eligible Canadians to vote. Conservatives do want eligible Canadians to vote. We want systems in place that will facilitate all eligible Canadians being able to vote properly. Canadians want a system they can rely on and want people who are eligible to vote being able to vote.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 10:55 a.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to be here today to again address this bill, Bill C-76. My colleagues and I have tried endlessly to intervene on the bill to improve it in an effort to provide true democracy for Canadians and to have integrity not only in our electoral process but, as my kind colleague, the member for Calgary Rocky Ridge, just indicated, in the legitimacy of the electorate. I think that is something integral to Canadians having confidence in the electoral process. It is for these reasons that our attempts at committee were endless, really limitless, in trying to bring close to 200 amendments to make this bill watertight in terms of democracy for Canadians, instead of what it has, unfortunately, become, which is a public relations exercise by the government to demonstrate that it is doing something to attempt democracy, when in fact, the holes are so large, one could drive a Mack truck through them.

My colleagues and I on the committee can certainly look at ourselves in the mirror and look at Canadians and say that we did everything we could possibly do to attempt to have a process that was truly democracy for Canadians and completely made in Canada.

I might add that something we have also attempted to avoid is the potential for foreign interference and influence. I again bring to the attention of the House that this is a public relations exercise, really, by the government. It is attempting to say that it modernized the Canada Elections Act and that it has a process that will absolutely ensure that there is no interference or influence.

I have only been in this position six weeks now, so there has certainly been a lot for me to catch up on. However, I have the great benefit of amazing colleagues and wonderful staff. I have certainly tried to move the process along for the benefit of Canadians. We certainly can look in the mirror and say that we did everything we possibly could to have the best electoral process possible for democracy here in Canada.

Before I talk more about this, I would like to use a specific case example, which I have in front of me today, which is based on a study and investigation done on behalf of the former member for Calgary Centre. I would like to use that as a case example to show that this bill would do nothing to fix the problems that were presented in this case.

However, I simply cannot proceed to that until I get to the two elephants in the room, or I guess it would be the donkeys in the room. That is a joke. The first one would be the by-elections. I simply cannot be here today without recognizing the fact that only one of the four by-elections has been called. This is incredibly unfortunate, because not only does it leave more than 300,000 Canadians without representation, as has been brought to the attention of the House by my colleague, but once again, it is unfortunately the current government's attempt to manipulate and politicize the political processes for its own gain.

I must admit that I was quite shocked last night in the House when I saw my NDP colleagues hooting and hollering over the joy of this bill being passed. They now have the potential of not having a leader sitting in the House for the next election. In fact, that is very possible and probable. I do not know how they can be completely overjoyed with something that potentially leaves them without their leader having a seat in the House of Commons. How can they possibly support a bill that would leave them on this front?

Beyond that affront to them, and who am I to speak up for them or have to defend their interests, I would merely like to point this out for their benefit since they did not seem to understand that in their joyous cries of support in the final vote last night. It sort of behooves me to mention that.

Then this morning, we had the surprise of the debate commissioner. I have to hand to our Liberal colleagues: They are very crafty in choosing the former governor general, sort of a kryptonite, someone selected by them to serve in this position, someone who was appointed Governor General by the former prime minister. However, it does not negate the process. Someone who is given the song sheet to anything, and it does not matter who it is, must sing the lyrics that are there. The rules we have seen for the debates have been laid out by the current government very specifically: two debates, one in English, one in French; participants meeting three of these criteria, one of which is so subjective. This is nothing new for the government, but it is again an affront to democracy.

My colleagues on the committee can verify whether we ever saw a shortlist or a name. I do not believe we did. Once again, it is an affront to democracy. The Liberal government is trying to rig the rules for its benefit. We will never accept that on this side of the House. We will fight for Canadians. Canadians have the right to say how they want to hear from the potential leaders of my nation. What could be more important than for Canadians to have the right to say what the format should be when they hear from their leaders. However, they are being denied that with the creation of this position and these rules. They are being denied their voice.

I would like to turn quickly now to Bill C-76 and this case study, which I am about to present, on how it does not address the problems at all.

This was a complaint brought forward by the Canada Decides group. The first point is with respect to regulation of third parties. It is unfortunate, because foreign interference is talked about significantly in this first part of the complaint. I can verify that the rules brought forward in the bill would do nothing to absolutely ensure that foreign interference and influence would not occur. We asked for this time and again in committee. In our amendments, we asked for the creation of the segregated bank accounts to ensure that third parties would not have the opportunity to receive a million dollars for administration costs and then, lo and behold, move it into election spending. We pushed so hard in an effort to limit the activities to ensure political activity was recognized and held to account. Unfortunately, because of the push-back from the government, this was not the case. Therefore, with respect to this case, I cannot confirm these things were rectified.

I mentioned, as well, the requirements before the pre-writ and the fact that they could receive as much money as they wanted and could do whatever they wanted before those times. I can verify that it does nothing to attempt to fix that. As well, there are no donation limits on contributions received externally, again, prior to the pre-writ period.

I would like to say this with an amendment. I move, seconded by the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “Bill C-76, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make certain consequential amendments, be not now read a third time, but be referred back to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for the purpose of reconsidering clause 378 with a view to amending it so as to prevent a government from cherry-picking which by-elections to call when there are multiple pending vacancies in the House of Commons.”

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, let me give a real example. During an election, Elections Canada will send out to Canadians all across the country a voter information card. Many constituents, and I will use my own riding of Winnipeg North as an example, take that card along with another piece of ID to the polling station, believing they can vote using those cards. Members of the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party recognized that being able to use that voter ID card was a positive thing. Stephen Harper's Conservative Party opposed it. They said to Canadians and to Elections Canada that the card could not be used.

This legislation says that Canadians should be able to use it. All political parties, as well as Elections Canada, agrees with that. Only the Conservative Party does not.

Could my colleague across the way explain to the constituents of Winnipeg North, indeed to all Canadians, why Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, which really has not changed very much, opposed the use of the voter ID card?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Stephanie Kusie Conservative Calgary Midnapore, AB

Madam Speaker, I feel so strongly that our party really is the party of electorate legitimacy. Canadians will never hold our efforts to ensure there is legitimacy within the electorate against us.

We absolutely feel that Canadians should have to present the proper identification to ensure they are entitled to the precious right to vote, perhaps one of the greatest rights of being a Canadian.

Not only was the government negligent with respect to the subject of identification, but it was also negligent with respect to the non-resident electorate. We pushed so hard for the legitimacy of that as well.

Canadians will never hold it against us for trying to hold our electoral process and the legitimacy of the electorate accountable.

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I will speak to the amendment. The New Democrats certainly have no interest in delaying. We have been waiting so long, urging the government to get on with it. The reason the amendment makes sense right now is because of an unusual decision taken by the Prime Minister with respect to by-elections in Canada.

The practice for the last generation, if the Liberals care about democratic rights and Canadians having representation, has been that when a group of seats have been vacated, the by-elections take place as expeditiously as possible. The Prime Minister, very cynically I would argue, chose on the weekend to only have one out of a series of by-elections, the one that had to take place by law. However, the other ones are sitting there and citizens are waiting. The Prime Minister had said that those folks will have to wait.

On the amendment to section 378 in the bill, the New Democrats did not contemplate needing to improve this because we did not think the current Prime Minister, or any prime minister, would be so cynical as to not have by-elections on behalf of Canadians. This is a quick fix because this power needs to be limited. I do not think it should up to the Prime Minister to wait six months and then call a by-election that could go on for six or eight months more and deny Canadians that right. Is that not premise of the amendment and the fix that we need in our electoral laws?

Elections Modernization ActGovernment Orders

October 30th, 2018 / 11:10 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I welcome this debate because the Liberals have finally got on with it and introduced a bill to fix the work done by the previous government, and here I use the term “work” loosely, because that work made it more difficult for a whole series of Canadians to vote.

As the parliamentary secretary was saying earlier, this bill, in their terms, is a “generational overhaul”. Even in the name of the bill itself, that it is a modernization act, conveys that. It gives Canadians the clear sense that we do not do this very often. We do not renew the election rules by which we all participate in our democracy, the ways in which the parties and third parties participate and the ways that voters experience the election, very often.

There was a longstanding principle in Canada, that we would never change those rules in this place unilaterally, that doing so was bad practice and bad faith for one party alone, the government, to force through changes to our rules unilaterally. Canadians would then be left with the very distinct impression that maybe the ruling party of the time was putting in rules that would help that party in the next election.

That is a fair assumption to make. People do not even have to be quite so cynical as some folks in the Prime Minister's Office are to make that assumption.

The practice in this place, for generations, was that when we changed election rules, we did it together collaboratively. The previous government, unfortunately, broke with that tradition over a fight about vouching. It felt there were problems with the vouching system. The New Democrats fundamentally disagreed and the evidence supported them, because there was no massive fraud taking place in our elections and those changes were more about disenfranchisement than ensuring proper enfranchisement of our voting rights.

How we got here with the current government is an important part of this conversation. The Liberals said that the bar was quite low, that their aim was to fix Stephen Harper's unfair elections act. It was not going to be hard to do; it just had to undo a bunch of the damage that the Conservatives had done in Bill C-23 in the last Parliament.

The government introduced the bill. It took a year, but okay, it was a new government. Then for two years, it did not move the bill. The bill just sat there on the Order Paper. I can remember getting up in this place to ask the democratic institutions minister, “Hey, where is your bill? What else are you working on?”

At the time, we had been going through the whole electoral reform process, some of my colleagues will remember well. The committee was called ERRE. It was a special committee. We had participation from all parties, including a representative of the Bloc and the Greens. We toured around the country. We visited every nook and cranny. I see that the Chair is smiling in fond recollection of all of those days we spent on the road together. It was an incredible privilege, not just because we got to hear from experts in Canada about our democracy and how it could perform better, about voting and how to count votes in different ways, but also heard about how much of Europe and most of the world, in fact, had changed over time.

Also, and more importantly, we got to hear from average, ordinary Canadians. We had an online survey. Some 33,000, I think, people participated. We went around and held town halls, and heard from witnesses from each of the provinces, but we also just had an open mic where people could come up for a few minutes and tell us what they thought was needed.

As a parliamentarian, this is the very lifeblood, the very motivation of why we should be here, to have that open access to Canadians. They poured their hearts out to us, talking about voting reforms they wanted to see. They overwhelmingly supported proportional voting systems. That was the evidence that we heard, both from the experts and from the public who came before us.

Then, unfortunately, at the 11th hour, in a most awkward and quite cynical move, the Liberals kind of pulled the plug and, for months, they would not talk about what they wanted to do, what kind of voting systems they were interested in. The Prime Minister had hinted at one out of Australia that he liked, a ranked ballot. However, very early on in the committee process, we heard from experts who said that ranked ballots would not work well in Canada, that it would be a first-past-the-post system but on steroids. It worked very well for a traditionally centrist party, a party that borrowed a bit from all sides at all times. Good gosh, who could that possibly help out? Right, it was the Liberals. That idea was shot down out of the gate.

Then the disinterest of the Liberals in moving anything forward became obvious, to the final point where the then-democratic reform minister got up in this place and slammed the committee itself for failing to do its job. She then became the former democratic institutions minister, because that did not go over well.

Moving forward, we then saw the government taking so much time that it actually blew past the Elections Canada deadline, which was last spring. Indeed, Elections Canada came before our committee and said that if we were going to make any changes to the way elections are run, it needed legislation passed by the House and the Senate last spring. The Liberals said, “right”, saw the deadline and introduced the bill the day after the deadline had passed.

The committee began to work, the Conservatives started a little filibuster, and that took all spring and into the fall, and then the government blinked and they worked out a deal together. It is so nice to see parliamentarians getting together and working things out. The Conservatives and Liberals worked out that there would be more pre-election spending money, thus putting more money into politics. The Liberals were okay with that. Now they are upset again at the Conservatives and so things are returning back to normal, I guess.

We were just outside the House of Commons talking about the debates commission, which this very same committee had studied as well for quite a while and made clear recommendations, which I have here. The second and most important one is on the leaders' debate, which is an important part of our democratic process. A lot of Canadians watch these debates in French and English and make up their minds as to whom they want to support. However, it got a little tricky in the last election, with leaders not showing up and kind of screwing up the process a bit. Therefore, a debates commission was promised three years ago. However, for months and months, the new Liberal minister of democratic reform told us not to worry, that they were not really consulting with us because they were just going to use the report by the procedure and House affairs committee, PROC. We said, okay, if they followed what PROC studied and recommended, then we should be fine.

The second recommendation states that the leaders debate commissioner must be selected unanimously by all parties in the House. That seems like a good idea. We do not want the person who sets the rules over that important debate to favour one party or another, or to be chosen only by one party and not anyone else, because Canadians would then ask if it were not a partisan appointment, which is not right. It should not be a partisan appointment, especially by just one party, because then we would just watch the democratic reform minister step out in front of the cameras and say that the government has appointed a commissioner, that the government has decided alone and set the terms for who can participate in the debate and that the commissioner it has appointed will set the topics and all of the rules to follow. The Liberals say unilaterally, “Trust us”.

On democratic issues, the government seems to have some kind of fundamental twitch that comes up again and again, in that when it comes to the decision between collaboration and working with others versus unilaterally having all the power in its hands, the governing Liberals choose the latter again and again. I do not know why. It is actually quite stupid strategically, because when they make recommendations that are only supported by themselves, they are open to proper accusations of bias, of trying to rig the rules. For heaven's sake, I just do not know why. It is not just for the sake of the spirit of collaboration that we try to work together to try to strengthen our democracy, but if that is not motivation enough, then doing so just for the sake of political strategy is sufficient reason. However, the Liberals do not understand that when they work with other parties and have them support their recommendation, there is just much less controversy out the other end and that Canadians will trust the results more. Yet, time and time again, the Liberals choose to go it alone and then it blows up in their face again and again, and then they want to blame someone.

Here we are with Bill C-76, which is pretty flawed. I mean, 338 recommendations and amendments, a whole bunch of them, came from the governing party itself. They wrote the bill and then had to correct the bill, and then just last night, we voted on more corrections to the corrections of the bill. It is not great that it took them three years to get here, and there were so many fundamental problems in it, and a bunch of things remain uncorrected. I will give one example, and I think it is a good one.

Canadians would worry about someone trying to cheat or steal votes in an election and spending money illegally. Well, how would Elections Canada be able to investigate that? It needs to compel testimony, which the bill includes. However, what the bill does not include, which Elections Canada wanted, is the power to require receipts, cheque stubs, from all of the political parties, as it does for us as candidates. As candidates, if we claim to spend money, we have to demonstrate how the money was spent. Political parties do not.

Well, that is strange. How can Elections Canada do an investigation and find out if something went wrong or if someone may be cheating if it cannot get the evidence? It would be like passing criminal laws in this place where we would strengthen the laws to protect Canadians, but deny the police the ability to gather evidence. We cannot bring a person to trial if we do not have evidence.

However, the Liberals actually had a provision in the bill to require receipts and invoices, but took it out. We tried to put it back in and the Liberals said no. The Chief Electoral Officer said that he needed that ability to catch the bad guys. If someone working in some party office started to cheat and spend money in a bad way, Elections Canada is not going to know, because it will not have the evidence. In order to have an investigation, we need evidence.

Let us talk about getting more women into Parliament. We all remember Daughters of the Vote. It is an excellent program. The government just decided to fund it a little more. Under that program, young women, particularly from each of the ridings across the country, come and occupy these seats, 338 of them. They sit in these seats. Last year they got to question the Prime Minister. They were good. They were tough and fair, but mostly tough.

When we look at our parliamentary situation and whether Parliament reflects what the country looks like, if we were to stand out on the front steps, the first thing one would notice is that there are not a lot of women. They represent 26% of members in this Parliament. In the last Parliament, they were 25%. It went up by one percentage point. At the current pace, we will have gender equity in Parliament in 83 years. The Daughters of the Vote said, “That is not a sufficient timeline, Mr. Feminist Prime Minister. When are you going to get on with this?”

One of the ways we can all get on with this is to encourage more women and more people of diverse backgrounds to run. That is a good way of doing things. However, like many things in life, we have to follow the money. Therefore, one of the changes we proposed was included in the bill by our former colleague Kennedy Stewart. The Liberals said they liked that bill, but then voted against it. How typical. What it proposed was that when we reimburse parties for spending, which the public very generously does, we should reimburse to 100% those parties that try to present candidates that reflect the country, those parties that have candidates close to parity. The parties that just want to present 100% pale, male and stale candidates would get less money back from the public. It is a form of encouragement to not just mouth the words but go out and try to recruit diversity so that we can have diverse views here. How radical is that? The Liberals voted against that. Instead, they said they were going to allow women to claim child care expenses for 30 days as part of their election spending. They could fundraise on that and get child care for 30 days, as if that were the barrier holding women back from running for office, those 30 days in the 35 days of the actual writ period.

Come on. For an allegedly feminist prime minister—and I say “allegedly” because I do not have a lot of evidence to show that he is—one would think that if he had a proposal in hand that would result in more women over time getting into office, that would be good, unless he is happy with 26%. That seems to be be the case, because he recently decided to protect all of his incumbents from nomination races. He just said, “They're all protected”, which is essentially saying that he would like to have the status quo. I know this because I think there is a Liberal riding association that does not want to have its current incumbent MP represent them again, and the Liberal Party recently told it to step in line or walk out the door. That is love of the grassroots if I ever saw it.

Privacy was a huge part of the conversation that we had with Canadians. New Democrats believe in people's right to have their personal data private. As we move deeper into the social media world, the Internet based economy, privacy and the protection of privacy become incredibly important in commerce but also in politics. Here is what the rules in Canada say right now with regard to how the parties manage huge databases of information about the Canadian voter. They say nothing. Canadian law says nothing. Therefore, if this is a modernization bill, a once in a generation attempt to make our elections free and fair and to protect our sacred democracy here in Canada, one would think that because it is 2018, we would have something in here about that data and protecting Canadians' rights.

Here is the threat that we have seen exposed. It is not an imagined threat. Has anyone heard of Cambridge Analytica? People from Cambridge Analytica approached a number of MPs in the last Parliament, me included, and said that we should hire them because they could help us harvest data from our social media sites, from Twitter and Facebook. They said they would find out their associated email addresses, something one cannot normally do. If someone likes us on Facebook, then they like us on Facebook. That is no big deal, However, we cannot find out their email address. They said they would get us those people's friends as well, that they would be able to micro-target folks who might be be associated with them and of interest to us.

For political parties, that is red meat. That is interesting. That opens up whole new worlds. What we can do now with social media is to hyper-target people. The old days of putting out political ads with a sort of scattered approach in appealing to voters are gone. Micro-targeting is where it is at.

The Liberals up until last year prided themselves on being able to micro-target. They said that is how they won the last election. In fact, they hired Cambridge Analytica. They gave a $100,000 government contract to do what? Has anyone seen the contract? No, because the Liberals will not put it out. They hired the guys who were caught up in a thing called Brexit.

Folks will remember Brexit. Britain certainly remembers Brexit because it is going through it right now. Voters in England were hyper-targeted. Databases had been harvested. Facebook likes and share groups had been manipulated and were only being sent a whole bunch of myths and disinformation about what Brexit meant. The British Parliament has been trying to unravel this thing ever since Brexit happened as to how that referendum vote happened.

I want people, particularly from Quebec, to imagine if in the last Quebec referendum we found out after the fact that the referendum had been tampered with by outside groups and agencies, that a foreign government had gone into the data profiles of Quebeckers and targeted them one by one and spread misinformation about the effects of their referendum vote, and we found out after the fact. What would the reaction of Quebeckers be in what was ultimately an incredibly close vote as to whether Quebec would seek to leave Canada? Would anyone cast aspersions on the results of the vote whether they won or lost, that whoever had lost would say that the vote was not done fairly? That is what is being said in England.

The U.S. justice department has said that the last U.S. election was tampered with and the current U.S. mid-terms are being tampered with right now through Russian and Chinese online hackers. The threat is real and the threat is now. When we look at this modernization bill and say what protections are we—

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:25 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

That is very interesting. The vote was on October 30, 23 years ago. That is fascinating. I wish I had known that before I started talking because that would have made the point even stronger. It was 23 years ago today.

Elections are happening right now in the U.S. The Democrat and Republican databases had been hacked in the last election. We saw the emails that were being spread about, in that case by Russian agents. The U.S. has warned Canada. In fact, our own secret service agency, the CSE, has warned Canada. The Minister of Democratic Institutions asked our spy agency to look at our democratic process and make recommendations. It reported last summer and said that on privacy, we do not have sufficient protections to protect our democracy. The report the minister commissioned from a Canadian agency said that things are not sufficiently strong.

The Liberal response was to reject every single recommendation that New Democrats put forward to make things better. The recommendations were based on the evidence we heard from the Chief Electoral Officer, from the Privacy Commissioner, from the BC Civil Liberties Association. In fact, there was not a single witness who came forward and said, “Please do not do anything.”

Here is what the Liberals offered up in Bill C-76. Every party must now have a statement on its website about privacy. It does not say what the statement is or whether the statement is enforceable or there are any consequences for breaking a promise to Canadians. Whoa, Canadians are quaking in their boots. What strong, tough Liberals they are. We are to put a statement on our website that is not enforceable, that is virtually meaningless. That is what Liberals think is protection of our democratic institutions. My goodness. Come on, they should be serious for once on this.

There was not a single witness at committee who said the status quo is acceptable. In fact, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada said that if there is one area where the bill failed, it is privacy. The Privacy Commissioner said that this bill contains nothing of substance in regard to privacy. These are the experts. These are the watchdogs. These are the people who we trust. We should trust them.

Last night when we voted on these amendments to make things better, to encourage more women to participate, to allow for better protections of our privacy, to allow more enfranchisement, the Liberals rejected them again just as they did at committee. For the life of me I really do not know why. We are meant to work together in this place. We are meant to not have real fundamental disagreements about the rights of Canadians to cast a free and fair vote in our elections. I sure wish the Liberals would back up some of their rhetoric with action.

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
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Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the member's speech, but I am not sure which conspiracy theory I want to deal with first.

In terms of the choice of the debates commissioner, I fail to see how David Johnston, a former governor general, is a partisan appointment. He is someone who has even moderated debates before.

On the timing of the bill, the member must know that even if a bill has not been passed, something he would know from the hearings at the electoral reform committee, Elections Canada begins preparing in advance of a bill passing. The commissioner even said that during the hearings on electoral reform.

Now I would like to shift to the official opposition's continual focus on electoral fraud. I would like the member's comment on a quote from the book One Person, No Vote, which of course is a play on the famous phrase. It is a book by Professor Carol Anderson, who writes, “The most common tool, though, [of voter suppression] are laws around identification: Crackdowns on what can be used as proof of address are often an indicator of suppression.”

I would like the member's comments on that quote.

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:30 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, particularly in the U.S., we have seen the most dastardly forms of trying to suppress certain votes. Sometimes it is done through identification and sometimes it is done through gerrymandering. There are all sorts of tactics that politicians there use, and I would say sometimes politicians here have used. Briefly, around vouching, it has certainly targeted folks who are homeless; younger people, who are more mobile and may not have those pieces of identification readily available; and particularly indigenous voters. Where I live, 40% or so of folks are indigenous, and there is less availability of ID for indigenous Canadians, particularly in rural Canada.

I would caution my friend though on the conspiracy theory comment, because I was very careful with the examples I brought forward. Unless he wants to say that the U.S. justice department is promoting conspiracy theories, or the European justice department is into conspiracy theories, or the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada or the Privacy Commissioner of Canada are into conspiracy theories, that language around this content is not deserving of the debate we are having.

Elections Canada had to make some of these modifications on the fly because the government was so late bringing the bill forward, but the Chief Electoral Officer said that this was not ideal. It is better to have a bill passed in its final form and then act upon it. Imagine if the police were to start enforcing things that were not yet passed into law. This is not good practice. He was forced to do it. Clearly, it was not the first choice.

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, it is always very interesting, enjoyable and exciting to hear my NDP colleague speak. Although we do not generally agree, it can still be inspiring. Indeed, much like the NDP member from British Columbia, I had the privilege of sitting on the electoral reform committee led by the member for Lac-Saint-Louis.

Before I ask my question, I would like to remind the House that the 1995 referendum in Quebec took place exactly 23 years ago today. As everyone knows, that vote profoundly divided Quebeckers. Perhaps there are people here who voted yes back in the day, but have since changed their minds.

Just a few minutes ago, the Liberal government announced a unilateral decision to appoint someone to oversee televised debates. We do not dispute that individual's expertise in any way, shape or form, but would it not have been better to make that announcement following consultations with the federal political parties?

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I also have fond memories of that committee and I like to think that we did good work.

As far as the debate commissioner is concerned, we do not take issue with the person who was selected or his credentials. We take issue with the process. The government selected a name from a list and then asked if we were happy with that selection. It is ridiculous. Even if the candidate were Ghandi, it is not about his qualities or performance, it is about the process.

In fact, the minister promised me and others that she would respect the work of the committee, which recommended that all parties discuss the selection. At the very least there should have a been a shortlist of two, three or four candidates. Otherwise, the government has all the say on something as important as the leaders' debate.

This seems to be a pattern with this government. Their principles and morality fall short when it comes to our democracy. This pattern is a threat to everyone because this government is obsessed with power.

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, the member was in the chamber when I posed a question to the Conservative Party about wanting to kill this bill. An opposition party will often vote against legislation, but it does not necessarily mean that in all circumstances it will go out of its way to kill the legislation. The Conservative Party would like to filibuster the debate on this bill and kill this legislation so that it never becomes law. Surely to goodness, the member across the way, with the experience he has, understands that.

On the other hand, New Democrats say we should never use any tools at all in order to pass legislation such as this. Would the member not recognize that if we do not look at the tool box, with the Conservatives committed to never allowing this bill to pass, there is a certain element of hypocrisy or lack of transparency on the part of New Democrats to be arguing that they want the legislation to pass even though it might need some improvements and then say, at the same time, never to use any of the tools that would ensure the legislation does pass?

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:35 a.m.
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NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Madam Speaker, normally when it comes to hypocrisy, I would tend to defer to my colleague because he is a bit of an expert on that. I have a whole series of quotes from his lips in this place, saying that the tactic they are taking right now should never be done.

The question is: How did we get here? We got here because the Liberals took so darn long to bring forward the legislation in the first place. Then when they are up against the wire, they are surprised when there is a six-hour filibuster, and they cut a deal with the Conservatives to get it through, and then they apply time allocation. Those are all choices made by members of the government. No one put a gun to their heads telling them not to bring the bill in for three years. They just chose to do that, and one wonders why. I think they invoke the panic and the deadline. Then when they are past the deadline, they panic and rush it through without debate. They do it again and again. It might be hypocrisy, actually, just from a lack of incompetence. I will let everyone decide.

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October 30th, 2018 / 11:40 a.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I will start by agreeing with my colleague that Liberal incompetence does breed a certain sense of urgency, but for the Liberals to use that as a tactic is quite wrong. There are a lot of things that need to get fixed and we are worried about them, but to purposely delay, then present something complex and insist that we need to run roughshod over the complexities because of their delay is not a tactic becoming of this place.

On the question of the new debates commissioner, one of the things I find interesting about the process, or lack thereof, is that the government appropriated $745,000 this year for a process to develop and implement a new debates commission. Presumably, the Liberals included the word “develop” because there was going to be some sort of substantive process that clearly required substantive funds.

I am wondering if the member can speculate as to how that money might have been spent given what appears to be a serious lack of process around appointing a new debates commissioner.