Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague. I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Skyview.
As I was saying, the boxes that would be at these stations would help folks like our seniors who may not feel safe going inside a polling station on election day but may be okay to go for a quick drive to drop off their ballot. This would also be a great thing for people who, like me, have last-minute things. If the ballot has not been mailed, they could still ensure that it gets counted in the election by just dropping it in that box.
The Chief Electoral Officer is working hard to make sure that Canadians remain safe in an election. However, I have some concerns about the suggested expansion of his powers in Bill C-19. While some of these suggestions are definitely reasonable, some of the more major shifts lack robust accountability. Unfortunately, some of the mechanisms in Bill C-19 would give the Chief Electoral Officer too much latitude to make significant changes without being accountable to Parliament.
Of course, during an election, Parliament is dissolved, so how can we make sure the Chief Electoral Officer remains accountable? At committee, we made the suggestion that the CEO should take certain actions only with the agreement of the Advisory Committee of Political Parties, which is struck under the Canada Elections Act. This is certainly not a perfect solution, and I would be happy to hear other solutions. There are definitely other ways in which the CEO could be more accountable instead of making certain decisions unilaterally, and this is just one.
Although I think very highly of Mr. Perrault and I trust that he will do his best in a very difficult situation, I am also sure that he shares my desire to ensure that there is absolutely no doubt when it comes to election results. In fact, there are a few parts of Bill C-19 that I feel would unnecessarily cause stress for Canadians regarding the outcome of an election.
The aspect of Bill C-19 that I have the most concern with is the willingness of the government to accept mail-in ballots after the polling stations are closed. This delay opens up a window of time when Canadians could feel uncertain of the results as mail-in ballots are counted. As we have seen in other elections around the world and even at home, confusion around election results is almost never helpful. These kinds of delays would cause Canadians anxiety and stress, and they would bring a sense of frustration around our democratic process.
We know that our election processes and procedures can never be absolutely perfect, but Canada's system is extremely reliable. However, we must do everything we can to ensure that Canadians have faith that the system is working well. If we introduce new delays that disrupt the system, I fear that it would create unnecessary frustration instead of promoting faith in our institutions. In my opinion, it would be better to ensure that all ballots are received and counted on the final day of polling. That way, Canadians can have an election night that feels normal, for the most part, one where the results are announced right away and Canadians can process that information, instead of waiting around for votes to be counted over a number of days.
Some of my colleagues will certainly say that allowing an extra day for mail-in ballots to be counted is necessary to make sure that we capture as many as possible. I agree with this idea in principle. However, we know that, unfortunately, there will always be late ballots, no matter how late we push the deadline, just like in a normal election there are always people who arrive at the polling station just a little too late. I have faith that the vast majority of Canadians are capable of completing their ballots and submitting them on time, to be counted by the end of the last polling day.
I also have a lot of questions for the government about how it created its plan for long-term care homes, and hopefully we will have more discussion on this. Bill C-19 would allow polling stations to be opened in long-term care homes 13 days prior to polling days, and these polling stations would be allowed to be open for a total of 12 hours in that 13-day period. This seems a bit of a strange solution to me.
Instead of expanding the level of access that Elections Canada workers have to long-term care homes, I believe that it is more important to make sure that Elections Canada workers are vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 and are actively limiting any potential transmission to long-term care residents. This likely means having fewer Elections Canada workers entering these homes. The government needs to make sure that these workers pose as small a risk as possible to our long-term care residents. To that end, the government must consult with long-term care experts to do right by our seniors at this time.
I will conclude, as I often do, by using the concrete example of my parents. My mom and dad are young at heart, especially my dad, but like many elderly Canadians, they need to take steps to make sure they stay healthy these days. I am happy that Bill C-19 offers people like my parents flexibility around voting through multiple voting days, mail-in options and other flexibilities.
In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that people like mom and dad have clarity around these measures and have the confidence that they will be safe if they go to vote. It is our job as parliamentarians to make sure that Canadians can feel safe voting and that their vote counts. Some of the changes of Bill C-19 help that goal, and others hurt that goal. I hope we can really look into this bill at committee to make sure we can get it right. I look forward to this important work.