Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservatives Push through Controversial Overhaul of Election Rules

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Conservatives Push through Controversial Overhaul of Election Rules

Article excerpt

MPs pass controversial elections bill


OTTAWA - The Conservatives used their majority muscle in the House of Commons to pass a controversial bill that makes sweeping changes to election laws.

Bill C-23, dubbed the Fair Elections Act, passed Tuesday by a vote of 146 to 123.

The bill was virtually universally panned by electoral experts when it was first introduced.

The Harper government eventually modified or removed some of the most contentious provisions -- including backing down on plans to eliminate vouching, muzzle the chief electoral officer and create a loophole that would allow rich, established parties to spend untold millions more during election campaigns.

"We introduced a common sense bill, we listened carefully to all the witness testimony and accepted the amendments that were worthy of passage," Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre said moments after Tuesday's vote.

"And I think the final result is a bill that started off very good and is now in an excellent form as it heads to the Senate."

The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee conducted a "pre-study" of the bill last month and recommended nine amendments, which were subsequently incorporated into the amendments accepted by Poilievre. The committee will hold more hearings now that the bill is actually before the Conservative-dominated upper house but is unlikely to insist on more changes.

Conservative Sen. Bob Runciman, chairman of the committee, said he believes the amendments made by Poilievre address the concerns of senators.

"By and large, the feedback I've had from fellow senators has been very positive about the way the minister reacted," he said in an interview.

However, Poilievre's changes weren't enough mollify opposition parties.

"The changes that have been made aren't good enough and if we form government in 2015, we will establish a much fairer principle around elections and repeal C-23," said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, who has led the charge against the bill, said the original bill was "very bad;" with the amendments, he said it is "just bad. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.