moved for leave to introduce Bill C-450, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (voting hours).
Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce a bill to improve the accessibility of our voting system and to strengthen the ability of all British Columbians to exercise their democratic right. I thank my hon. colleague from Burnaby—New Westminster for seconding this important bill.
This bill would change the voting hours in British Columbia for a general election. Currently the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This bill would set the hours at 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and this would bring B.C. closer in line with other provinces where voting is open until 8:30 p.m or even 9:30 p.m.
There are many working families in my riding. There are many single parents. Many people work long hours at multiple jobs to feed their families, and closing the polls at 7:00 p.m. prevents many of these people from voting.
Everyone in this House has experienced election day. We know that voting places are always busiest in the hours after work. In British Columbia, where the polls close at 7:00 p.m., there are often long lineups and many people cannot make it in time, and those who do are often discouraged by the lines and leave without casting a ballot.
Voter turnout in Canada is worryingly low. I believe it is the responsibility of politicians to make sure the voting system is designed to be accessible to everyone.
In conclusion, this bill is simple. It is reasonable. It would not cost one penny. It addresses a very real problem in our community. I hope the government will realize the importance of this proposal and work with all members of the House to make it a reality.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)