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House of Commons Hansard #100 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fraud.

Topics

Canadian Firearms RegistryPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Thibault Bloc Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition in favour of keeping the Canadian firearms registry. This petition has been signed by students in the social work program at the Rimouski Cégep, who feel that the registry plays a vital role.

MuseumsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise in the House and present a petition signed by people from all across this good country, including such famous Canadian centres as Wadena, Saskatchewan; Minnedosa, Manitoba; Trois-Rivières, Quebec; the wonderful community of Iroquois Falls, Ontario, which happens to be in my riding; Bridgewater, Nova Scotia; Holy Cross, Nova Scotia; and Harris, Saskatchewan.

The petitioners are concerned about the decline in support for museum funding across this country. In fact, with the cuts that were visited upon our nation's museums, every small town in this country has felt the terrible blow laid to them by the Conservative government.

The petitioners ask us as members of Parliament to rise to the occasion to recognize the value of museums, to recognize the value of heritage and culture, things the government seems to have missed out on. I am not editorializing here but this seems to be the message I am getting from these petitioners. They call upon us to work together to restore the museums assistance funding and recognize the value of our Canadian museums.

MarriagePetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions from the community of the town of Churchill, Manitoba to address the issue of marriage.

HealthPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, I also present a third petition from the community of Easterville, in northern Manitoba. The community is seriously dealing with a critical health issue of addiction. The petitioners call upon the government to help them establish a treatment centre.

Public Safety Officers Compensation FundPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36 I am pleased to table in the House two petitions. The first petition has to do with public safety officers, namely, police officers and firefighters.

The petitioners call to the attention of the House that our police officers and firefighters place their lives at risk each and every day when they perform their duties and that the employment benefits they often receive are insufficient to compensate the families of those who are killed in the line of duty. Also, they point out that the public mourns the loss when any of these police officers or firefighters lose their life in the line of duty and they would like to have an opportunity to support the families in some tangible way.

They therefore call upon Parliament to establish a fund, known as the public safety officers compensation fund, for the benefit of families of public safety officers who are killed in the line of duty.

Stem Cell ResearchPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on the matter of stem cells, flowing from the reproductive technologies legislation with which we have dealt.

The petitioners, again from my riding of Mississauga South, point out that hundreds of thousands of Canadians suffer from debilitating illnesses and diseases, such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. They also point out that ethical stem cell research has shown encouraging potential to provide cures and therapies for these illnesses and diseases, and also that non-embryonic stem cells, also known as adult stem cells, have shown significant research progress without the immune rejection or ethical problems associated with embryonic stem cells.

The petitioner call upon Parliament to focus its legislative support on adult stem cell research to find the cures and therapies necessary to treat the illnesses and diseases of Canadians.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order PaperRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

January 31st, 2007 / 3:30 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Is that agreed?

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for PapersRoutine Proceedings

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded division government orders will be extended by 12 minutes.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

There are nine motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-31.

Motion No. 3 will not be selected by the Chair, as it could have been presented in committee.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5), regarding the selection of motions in amendment at report stage.

Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 4 to 9 will be grouped for debated and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

I will now put Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 4 through 9 to the House.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-31 be amended by deleting Clause 18.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-31 be amended by deleting Clause 21.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-31, in Clause 22, be amended by deleting lines 28 to 42 on page 10.

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-31, in Clause 26, be amended by replacing lines 38 and 39 on page 11 and lines 1 to 18 on page 12 with the following:

“26. Subsection 161(6) of the Act is replaced”

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-31, in Clause 28, be amended:

(a) by replacing line 32 on page 12 with the following:

“28. (1) Paragraph 162(f) of the Act is”

(b) by replacing lines 37 to 42 on page 12 and lines 1 to 11 on page 13 with the following:

“(2) Section 162 of the Act is amended by striking out the word “and” at the end of paragraph (i) and by adding the following after paragraph (i):”

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-31, in Clause 30, be amended by replacing lines 25 to 43 on page 13 with the following:

“30. Section 169 of the Act is amended by”

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-31 be amended by deleting Clause 33.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-31, in Clause 38, be amended by replacing lines 31 to 40 on page 15 and lines 1 to 6 on page 16 with the following:

“38. (1) Subsection 489(2) of the Act is amended by adding the following after paragraph (a.1):

(a.2) contravenes subsection 161(7) (vouchee acting as voucher);

(2) Subsection 489(2) of the Act is”

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-31. I want to step back and talk a bit about how we arrived at where we are.

Bill C-31, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act came from a committee report that was commissioned by all parties initially to look at the previous election and how it had been conducted. People had some concerns about how that election and previous elections had been conducted. This report was boiled down and turned into this bill.

Unbeknownst to many people, including myself, the bill was put forward without those of us in the House and on committee understanding that we were going to take on how people voted, the most fundamental aspect of our democracy.

We heard from numerous witnesses in committee about their concerns with this legislation. The amendments that we have put forward deal with those concerns as well as the concerns of many others who spoke to us in our communities.

The concerns expressed by witnesses and people who we spoke to in our communities were about the requirements for photo ID. Initially, many people said that was fine. However, those without photo identification would be required to have people vouch for them, but an individual who vouched for one person could not vouch for another, and they considered this restrictive. Witnesses who supported this amendment and had those concerns spoke from the perspective of those who worked with our homeless, our most vulnerable, and our students, who some would say are part of our most transient population because of the fact that they move back and forth from their homes to their schools numerous times.

We have tried to encourage both of these groups over the last number of years to exercise their franchise, to vote. Sadly, what we have in front of us are barriers to that. Why? Now they are required not only to have photo identification, but different tiers are being used. If they are unable to produce photo ID, then they are required to produce other pieces of identification with vouchers.

Vouchers is a topic of great concern for myself and my colleagues in our party. They will now be required to have someone who is already on the voter's list vouch on their behalf. This can only be done once. We know from people who were witnesses at committee that this is impossible in many cases simply because of the populations with which they deal.

If I can reference the homeless population. It has only been recent that we have been able to organize systems in our country allowing homeless people the opportunity to exercise their franchise. That was not done by government, but by the people who work in our communities. They took this on themselves. They were not paid by government exclusively to do this. They saw the need, the benefit and the responsibility as citizens to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens were not disenfranchised. These people did the work that some of us in government should perhaps have done. They took this on themselves.

They are confused and angry because they believe Bill C-31 will undo all the good work they have done by way of organizing people who do not have addresses because they are homeless. They ensure the homeless have an address, usually a drop-in centre or homeless shelter, and they are able to vouch on their behalf. The bill as proposed, without our amendments, would mean that those who work with the homeless would not have the opportunity to vouch for more than one person if they themselves were on the voter's list. This would be the restriction.

We put forward an amendment that would allow someone to vouch for more than one person. Also, we would have an opportunity to use a system that works in British Columbia. There would be an opportunity for them to swear that people were in fact who they said they were, and this could be tracked and accountable and would not be open to exploitation.

Further amendments that we have made have to do with privacy issues. I want to underline the concerns that we have, which I brought forward in committee.

According to the bill as written, electors will now have their birth date information given to Elections Canada. This birth date information will be passed on to people who are working in the polling stations for Elections Canada.

I do not have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, about the concerns people have had recently about privacy and personal information. We have seen exploitation of the privacy of people recently with companies. We have seen stories about the information of people being used and abused.

What we have in front of us is a bill that would take the birth date information of citizens and that information would be circulated among all those who work on behalf of Elections Canada. I am not concerned about the propriety in the trust of the employees of Elections Canada. I am concerned about how this information can leak out. We have 308 ridings with I do not know how many different polling stations. This kind of privacy needs to be protected. That is why we put forward an amendment to remove the requirement to have birth date information shared with Elections Canada because of the privacy factor.

When we look at ensuring we have legitimacy and trust in the election system, there are other ways of dealing with that issue, other than sharing the privacy of one's birth date. I know many people in my riding are aghast at the fact that their birth date information would be shared with Elections Canada.

What is even more egregious is the fact that we now will share, according to the amendment put forward by the Bloc and supported by the Liberal Party, this birth date information with all political parties. For what reason? We know what it is. It is so they can exploit it and use it for their own purposes. It has nothing to do with checking the verification of the voter in front of them. It is an opportunity, to be polite, for political parties to use personal information for their own purposes. Why else would a political party need one's birth date information?

We put forward amendments on birth date information and the sharing thereof. We do not believe Elections Canada should have it to share with everyone. We most assuredly, and I think there would be a charter challenge on this, do not want political parties to have birth date information.

Consider this. In my riding of Ottawa Centre we have up to eight to ten different candidates and parties running. This would mean that each and every one of those parties would have access to the private information of each and every elector. How do we ensure that this information will not be shared with others for purposes other than to verify if a voter is genuine?

I implore other members of the House to support our amendments to ensure that there is privacy protection. When they find out that Parliament will pass a bill that will open up their private information to not only Elections Canada but to political parties, I think most people will be aghast. I am sure they do not know that at this point.

That is why we have put forward these amendments. I hope for the support and hopefully a change in the minds of the Bloc and the Liberals, who at committee said that it was fine for political parties to have birth date information shared among themselves. That makes no sense. I am sure others in the House, now that they have learned about this, will want to support our amendment to remove that clause of the bill, which allows political parties to have this kind of private information of citizens.

Finally, I think if we are unable to have these amendments go forward, it will be very difficult for us to support the bill. I look forward to questions from my colleagues.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Conservative Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to point out some of the changes made in committee that I think substantially address the concerns of the hon. member from the New Democratic Party. I will be frank in saying that I am a bit surprised these concerns are being raised by the NDP, given the considerable measures that the committee went to in its work to ensure that the franchise would be as open as possible to all Canadians, and indeed, more open than it currently is in many respects.

The member mentioned a number of disadvantaged groups. He mentioned the homeless specifically. I want to point out some of the things that were done in committee to ensure that a number of groups that might be disenfranchised, specifically the homeless, are taken care of.

One of the problems for people who move residences frequently, and the homeless obviously would fit that category, is that voters lists tend to fall out of date. We asked as an administrative measure, not a legislative one, and we had an assurance from the Chief Electoral Officer for it, that the Chief Electoral Officer carry out more aggressive enumeration in areas where there is a high turnover of populations, especially in certain areas. In response to a question from me, he said he will carry out enumeration in areas where there are high levels of homelessness. That should do a substantial amount.

We also made sure that pieces of ID are added to the list of ID that can be used for voting. For example, special provisions were made for aboriginal identification, for student cards and for bus passes to ensure that these groups are not excluded from the franchise.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's answer. It does not address the concerns that I raised in my comments. I was at committee with him. The witnesses stated very clearly that the people they deal with would not have access to the identification he just mentioned. He knows that the change in the bill means that these people often will not be able to find people to vouch for them.

I am a little puzzled as to his take on this. Bus passes often are not something that someone who is homeless has access to. A bus pass is a piece of identification that normally would require an address on it, so I am not satisfied with his take on how things happened in committee.

I have to also touch on the idea of enumeration. We asked, and we were very clear about it even before this bill, that we have universal enumeration for universal suffrage, nothing less, nothing more. We know about the problems we had when we went to the centralized list. People were left off the list, usually in ridings like my own and other urban ridings where there is a lot of turnover. The fact of the matter is that we have not had assurances. In fact, when we asked for universal enumeration for each election, with people going door to door, that was not accepted. With all due respect to my colleague, it is not enough. An assurance from the Chief Electoral Officer to do that was something we had before.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

Stephen Owen Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his presentation and the hard work that he has put in on the committee work on this bill.

He mentioned that he heard no purpose given to us at committee for having dates of birth given not to electoral parties but to electoral officials. Of course, the date of birth information is very valuable. If an electoral official has a doubt about someone's identity, it can connect them to the age. It may be someone with the same name as their parent or child or a same name of two unrelated people. It seems to me that it is a unique identifier available to electoral officials when there is doubt, not to be spread about, but to add confirmation to the person's identity.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think what my colleague missed in my comments were the amendments put forward by the Bloc and supported unanimously by his party to share that information with political parties.

I cannot fathom the reason for political parties needing to have birthdate information. My colleague suggests that maybe it is so they can send out birthday cards, but the purpose here is verification, and the bill calls for photo ID. The idea of sharing birthdate information for all political parties is worrisome for some of us, but as for going to the extent of sharing it with all political parties, the Bloc and the Liberals were the ones who pushed through that amendment. It was not in the bill.

Let me be very clear. This is about political parties having that information. I know that in the hon. member's previous employment as an ombudsman he would have been deeply concerned that this kind of information, which is private information from my perspective, would be shared. I hope he supports our amendment.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:50 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak today to the amendments proposed at the report stage of Bill C-31.

This is a bill that provides real, tangible results for Canadians. Without a well-functioning electoral machinery, of course, our democracy simply will not work. All hon. members will agree that the machinery must be regularly maintained, updated and renewed. That is what Bill C-31 seeks to do. It is in fact an ideal example of how to go about doing that.

The genesis of the bill was a parliamentary committee report to which the government responded with legislative action. We have worked with the other parties in fine-tuning the bill after hearing from a number of witnesses at the committee.

I point out that while we opposed certain changes that occurred to the bill at committee, that is, our Conservative members opposed them, we are now prepared to support Bill C-31 in its current form. A big reason behind this is that we think this bill has benefited from a multi-party degree of support, which is important in a bill of this nature. For that reason, Conservatives are not going to support the proposed NDP amendments that are before us today.

Before elaborating on some of the benefits of the bill, I want to express my thanks and gratitude to my predecessor, the member for Niagara Falls, the Minister of Justice. Through his work as the former government House leader and Minister for Democratic Reform, we are now in a position to advance this important bill, which was, I repeat, the product of cooperation and collaboration in this Parliament.

Bill C-31 is just one part of our very robust democratic reform agenda, an agenda based on bringing accountability and integrity to the institutions and processes of governance.

We of course know about Senate Bill S-4, which remains mired in the Senate. Again today the Liberal senators refused to debate it. It has been almost a year since they have gone about refusing to debate it and have filibustered. Their own leader says he supports term limits for senators, yet that bill remains mired there. I cannot understand why Liberals want to make their leader look so weak, but I am not surprised that it is happening.

That is just one part of our agenda. At least on Bill C-31 we think we can see results very soon.

With regard to some of the amendments before us, it is important to note that the bill implemented virtually all of the parliamentary committee's recommendations in its report. In particular, it took up the committee's call to do more to combat voter fraud. That is really the core of Bill C-31: to protect the integrity of our electoral system.

The two major recommendations made by the committee—and included in Bill C-31—were as follows: to confirm the identity of voters, record their date of birth on the new official lists; establish a standard process for identifying voters.

This same committee reported, on December 13, 2006, on Bill C-31 to which some amendments were also made. Once again, the committee emphasized the importance of these two specific aspects of the bill. Motions in amendment moved by the member for Ottawa Centre attempt to reverse the committee's decision in this regard.

I urge all other members to join me in opposing these amendments so that we can avoid further delays to this very important bill. Let us address them.

First is the date of birth on the list of electors: The first amendment proposed by the member for Ottawa Centre proposes to remove that provision. At committee, we opposed that as well. However, it is now there in the bill and, as I said, in the spirit of cooperation, we are prepared to support it at this stage so that the bill may move forward. Also, we do agree that it can go some distance to assisting in combating voter fraud and ensuring that people's identification is what they say it is.

Second is voter identification. The balance of the NDP amendments aim to gut the provisions of the bill that require the provision of identification for someone to vote and, in so doing, effectively undermine the central objective of the bill, which is to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

Let us take, for example, Motions Nos. 2, 4 and 9. On the requirement for voter identification and the ability for polling officials to challenge voters for identification, both of those provisions were part of the key recommendations of the thirteenth report of the procedure and House affairs committee, aimed specifically at dealing with the potential for voter fraud. There were no dissenting opinions to that report, so now we are hearing from the NDP a new position compared to what took place in the original report.

Second, as I said, addressing voter fraud is the core reason for Bill C-31. If we were to remove those provisions, we would weaken it. In terms of requiring identification, the Canada Elections Act already requires voters to provide identification if they wish to register. However, there are no guidelines on what kind of identification is acceptable. Bill C-31 establishes what constitutes acceptable identification by implementing the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on this matter.

Bill C-31 will require voters to show one piece of government-issued photo identification with name and address, or two pieces of identification establishing identity and residence. If the voter does not have identification, Bill C-31 allows the voter to take an oath and be vouched for.

These motions for amendment being proposed today will take us back to a realm of uncertainty and uneven practice as to the types of identification that can be used. The government strongly opposes these motions.

Simply put, we have ample opportunity for anyone who seeks to vote legitimately to do so. The net effect of the amendments being proposed by the New Democratic Party here--and I am surprised after the positive experience of the NDP in supporting the federal Accountability Act that the NDP would propose such amendments--would be to open up loopholes for those who wish to take advantage and those who wish to commit voter fraud.

That is what the effect of these amendments would be. That is why I am surprised that they come from the New Democratic Party, which I thought was concerned with seeing some preservation of the integrity of the process. That is what we are trying to do with the bill.

In conclusion, the potential for voter fraud hurts the integrity of our electoral system and undermines public confidence in the voting process. In fact, every time someone votes fraudulently, it undermines the legitimate say of every other voter. We all lose a little when that fraud takes place. That is why we cannot support amendments that create the opportunity for such fraud.

This bill provides better tools to poll officials to confirm the identity and eligibility of voters. One way is through the addition of the date of birth, which is in that amendment.

Another way, which came out of the committee, is to require voters to show identification or be vouched for before voting, and to systemize the identification required before registering at polls so there is certainty, no ambiguity and no opportunity for fraud and cheating.

The third way is to allow poll officials or candidates to challenge the eligibility of potential voters and require them to affirm their eligibility in writing: to say who they are and prove who they are. I think most Canadians actually think that is what we have to do now when we vote. I do not think many people are offended by the fact that when they say their name is X they must actually prove they are X. I think that is what Canadians expect. I think that is what Canadians hope for.

There are many who come to me after voting in an election and say they are amazed by the fact that anybody could have walked up and said they were Jane Doe, or by the fact that their vote could have been taken away because nobody actually asked them for ID. That troubles people. That is why we need to have those voter identification provisions.

Each of these tools would be removed from the bill under the proposed amendments from the New Democratic Party. Bill C-31 and these features in particular were the result of a non-partisan, multi-party recommendation of a parliamentary committee of the House that was seeking to improve the integrity of the electoral process.

These motions for amendment would reverse that work and I hope members will join me in opposing them.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite the government House leader to come with me to the northern part of my riding where I do regular clinics and fill out applications for birth certificates, social insurance numbers, and health cards for first nation communities in Kashechewan, Atawapaskat, Moose Factory, Moosonee and Ogoki.

I am amazed at the number of people in these communities who do not have access to the kind of identification we are talking about. They have been simply left off the political map of Canada. These are the isolated first nation communities of course with the lowest levels of voting.

When we are talking about ensuring that people are able to exercise their democratic franchise, the member opposite is accusing us of supporting electoral fraud. I certainly take exception to that because I have people in my region who are trying to vote, who do not have addresses because they are not listed on band addresses, whose children have not had birth certificates, and whose government officials do not come up and fill out the most basic forms that every other Canadian takes for granted.

We have some serious problems with this bill because we want to ensure that these people are not disenfranchised. I would be more than happy to invite the hon. government House leader to come with me and fill out some of these forms and he could see some of the problems we are up against. The issue, for example, of the latest census on the James Bay coast was abysmal. It was done poorly. We are dealing time and time again with people who are simply not in the records of this country.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am perplexed by the reference of the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay to the census. The census of course is not what determines the voter's list. The voter's list is determined by registration.

I think most Canadians believe that the provisions for voter identification are not onerous. I think it would be a positive thing if people do not have that identification to get it and I encourage the member for Timmins--James Bay to help his constituents if they have not.

However, I do not believe the member for Timmins--James Bay has actually read the bill as it has come out of committee because there is a special provision dealing with first nations. I myself have a first nations reserve in my constituency. I am familiar with the problems and the issues, but they seem to cope with them quite well in the case of my constituents.

However, there is a special provision that creates an additional opportunity for those from a first nations population that is not there for other Canadians. That provision states:

For the purposes of paragraph (2)(b), a document issued by the Government of Canada that certifies that a person is registered as an Indian under the Indian Act constitutes an authorized piece of identification.

There is a specific provision there taking into account in particular that they will not have to have that birth certificate. They will not have to fill out those forms, which I think is a good thing if the member can help them do it. They have a special provision just for that. I think that is a positive thing and I congratulate the committee for its foresight in including it.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very surprised at the government House leader's comments as well.

I would like him to come to Vancouver East where we have an incredible problem with voter registration and people being disenfranchised. More people will be disenfranchised as a result of this bill if it goes through without these amendments.

He says that people should prove that they are X. Actually, under the current provisions of Elections Canada, people do have to prove who they are. They can use a statutory declaration. They can have someone vouch for them in the community, so that it is known that they are who they are.

What the bill is doing and what the government is doing is actually removing that provision and making it so incredibly onerous for people to vote by having a single voucher, one person vouching for one elector in the same poll. This will completely remove people's ability to vote.

We have looked at this bill. When he talks about fraud, and this massive bill has to deal with fraud, I want to ask the minister to respond to the charge that we make. By putting forth this bill and voting for it, he will actually be disenfranchising thousands of people in communities like mine who rely on the system as it is now in order to vote. I would like the minister to come to my community so he can see that.

Motions in amendmentCanada Elections ActGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have been to the member's constituency, so it is not news or a surprise to me. However, I can tell her that there is in the bill, and again I do not think she has read it, a provision that provides for vouching.

The only difference is that one person who might have bad intent would not be able to vouch for 250 people. For example, if there are 200 people at a homeless residence, there are 200 people who can vouch for someone else in that residence. There is no difficulty there. There is no challenge. There is ample opportunity for that to occur. No one would be disenfranchised, but it certainly limits the ability of one bad actor to commit large scale fraud and that is a positive thing for the integrity of the system.