moved that Bill C-319, an act to amend the Canada Elections Act (declined vote ballots), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, the explanation of this bill is very short and simple.The purpose is to provide Canadian voters when they cast their votes the opportunity to express on the ballot not by way of spoiling it or handling it in a manner that would lead to rejection of the ballot but by way of placing the appropriate sign on the ballot itself that they decline to vote for any of the candidates named on the ballot. The ballot should be redesigned. In addition to indicating the duly registered candidates, it should have a line where the voter could indicate that he or she declines to vote for any of the candidates named on the ballot.
In French, “Je refuse de voter pour l'un ou l'autre des candidats nommés ci-dessus”.
One may wonder, why is that. Current trends show that rejected ballots comprise about 1% of the total number of ballots. It is not a large number of ballots that are rejected because of mistreatment or dissatisfaction on the part of the voter who would somehow express, as is often the case, dissatisfaction by way of rejection. An increased tendency was noticed in the last election. This matter was brought to my attention at that time by some voters in the riding of Davenport who were dissatisfied with the candidates in the race, so to speak. The bill is intended to provide a way of expressing this type of dissatisfaction.
Some people claim that we should not proceed with this type of measure because it would encourage even further disinterest on the part of Canadian voters in the democratic process. That is an opinion one should respect of course. I am inclined to think there is room in our democratic system, which is one of the best in the world, for a measure that would allow a voter, having already thought about how to vote before entering the polling station, to come to the conclusion that none of the named candidates or parties, as most of the time it is a matter of party choice, meets the requirements, expectations or political inclinations of that voter.
That is the essence of the bill. I bring it to the attention of the House as a measure that would perhaps provide some degree of satisfaction for voters who disagree with the system. If this measure is eventually adopted, I hope it will not attract a large number of voters. In a democratic system I think we ought to make room for every perspective and point of view. On election day we should provide for any type of expression, even if it sounds like one that is out of the main stream of thought and of democratic forces that are at play on election day.
Having said that, because of the late hour I will sit down and look forward to the comments of my colleagues on this measure.