Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada has heard what Canadians have to say.
We are very proud that the majority of the all-party amendments to the bill are among the amendments the committee adopted.
When the bill was introduced, the Government of Canada introduced it as an initiative to modernize our electoral process and make it more transparent, accessible and secure for all Canadians. One of the proposed amendments was to require all electors to be Canadian citizens when exercising their right to vote.
Even though that has always been a requirement for eligibility to vote, Bill C-76 revealed an error in the wording of the new Canada Elections Act, which came into force in 2000.
It was possible to interpret the French version of the act as stating that a person who expected to obtain Canadian citizenship prior to voting day could vote in an advance poll before being granted citizenship. Of course, there is no way to know for sure that a person will become a Canadian citizen until that person has taken the oath of citizenship.
The amendments made by the committee to Bill C-76 correct this error and clarify that only Canadians can cast a ballot in a ballot box. This would help ensure the integrity of the entire electoral process.
Former chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand has applauded the Government of Canada's efforts to modernize our electoral system and make it more accessible. However, he also mentioned that additional amendments should be made to facilitate the identification of electors who live in seniors residences or in long-term care centres, because it could be difficult for seniors to prove where they live with an ID. I think this is a great amendment, a great suggestion, because in a riding like Edmonton Centre, with so many towers and so many seniors residences, I have seen that this particular voter ID difficulty for seniors is prevalent.
The committee also adopted amendments to Bill C-76 that would make the electoral system more accessible for our seniors. From now on, seniors centre employees would be allowed to cast ballots for senior citizens living in their place of work, provided they themselves can vote and live close to the seniors centre. I know that the seniors at St. Andrew's will be happy to hear this. They live about a block away from my house, and when it comes time to vote, they will be able to make sure that their voice is counted.
Bill C-76, the elections modernization act, includes measures to ensure that political parties and third parties play by the same rules in exercising their right to participate in political electoral activities.
From now on, third parties that intervene in the electoral process in any way would have to clearly explain their advertising messages. Also, third parties that spend more than $10,000 or that receive more than $10,000 in contributions would be required to submit financial reports to Elections Canada every two weeks, starting on September 15 in a fixed-election year. Elections Canada would publish these financial reports on its website. These transparency measures would help Canadians better understand who is trying to influence their vote and why.
This bill will also protect our democratic institutions from foreign attempts to influence outcomes. Elections Canada representatives and the commissioner of Canada elections appeared before the committee and recommended further enhancing a number of protective measures. The government agreed to several of those recommendations.
Bill C-76 also contains additional tools that would make it easier for Elections Canada and the Canada elections commissioner to prevent or limit the effects of third-party influence on Canadian voters. For example, the new third-party funding section of the act would prohibit the use of foreign funds at any time to obtain or broadcast partisan advertising, to fund partisan activities or to conduct polls. New anti-avoidance provisions would also forbid all attempts to sidestep these rules.
Bill C-76 created a new offence to prohibit the fraudulent use of a computer to influence election results. A new offence added during the committee's study will henceforth prohibit all attempts to influence an election and strengthen that prohibition.
We would also make it a criminal offence to publish material made by anyone attempting to impersonate the Chief Electoral Officer or a returning officer.
Finally, on the recommendation of the commissioner of Canada elections, our government would reinforce the ban that applies to all persons and entities that sell advertising space. It would now be forbidden to sell advertising space to foreigners that would allow them to broadcast election advertising.
The results of Canadian elections should only ever be determined by electoral votes made by Canadians. Bill C-76 already contained numerous amendments to the act to amend the Canada Elections Act that were important to Elections Canada's recommendations.
During the committee's study, the Government of Canada listened to independent experts whose only job is to protect our democratic institutions. I am proud of the comments we heard from those experts because they helped strengthen the bill.
Therefore, I invite all colleagues in the House today to voice their support of the third reading of the act to amend the Canada Elections Act and modernize our electoral process and make it more transparent, accessible and secure for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
When we take a look at the facts, 56 witnesses were heard in committee on Bill C-76, there were 24 hours of committee time and there were 36 and a half hours of study time of CEO recommendations by committee. For bill C-23, the hours of study for the Fair Elections Act was 49.5.
Bill C-76 would encourage Canadians to participate fully in the electoral process, and that is exactly what we intended.