A Christophersonian filibuster

The procedural wars over the Fair Elections Act continue


The Procedure and House Affairs committee heard from Pierre Poilievre yesterday morning, after which the committee was scheduled to spend an hour sorting out its own business. At the start of that second hour, NDP MP David Christopherson tabled again his motion setting out the NDP’s preferred parameters for a study of the Fair Elections Act, including committee hearings across the country. And apparently lacking an agreement with the Conservative side about how to proceed, Mr. Christopherson, he of high dudgeon, proceeded to talk out the scheduled second hour.

“I say right now, Chair, at any time in this process until we have some kind of an agreement if the House leader wants to talk publicly, offline, texting, smoke signals, anyway he wants to convey that they’re prepared to compromise then I’m signalling we are receptive to that because this is not the fight that’s important,” Mr. Christopherson explained. “It’s not the primary fight as we see it.”

A rough count from the early transcript shows he committed something in excess of 7,000 words to the official record. Whenever the committee next meets—the House is scheduled to be adjourned next week—the floor will once again be Mr. Christopherson’s and he will be able to continue speaking for as long as he desires.

Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski lamented that the NDP would turn cross-country hearings into a “gong show.” During QP, Mr. Poilievre graciously suggested to Mr. Christopherson that “the member merely has to provide a list of witnesses and they can all be brought to the committee for testimony.” (Mr. Poilievre also said the committee would “improve” the bill, which again seems to suggest a certain openness to amendment.)

This filibuster (however long it lasts or takes) follows last week’s efforts to delay a time allocation motion and the current stand-off over committee travel.

Asked about rail safety during QP this afternoon, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt complained that the New Democrats had decided to “block … a parliamentary committee from getting real information from real safety experts from around the country”—seemingly a reference to the fact that the Transport committee was caught in yesterday’s denial of travel—and so after QP, Nathan Cullen stood and offered to break the impasse with a motion that the Procedure and House Affairs committee be allowed to travel. Mr. Cullen did not, not surprisingly, receive unanimous consent.

One must always allow for the possibility that the actions of politicians are motivated by politics and it remains to be seen how this struggle and delay will impact the wider debate around the bill and the standing of the parties involved—if the Conservatives agree to cross-country hearings, they increase the opportunity for the NDP to publicize concerns about the bill, if the Conservatives say no to cross-country hearings, they give the NDP an opportunity to complain that they’re avoiding scrutiny or stifling debate—but the Fair Elections Act is at least proving to be an educational survey of parliamentary tactics and the legislative process.


A Christophersonian filibuster

  1. With respect to the transport bill, why can’t the witnesses be brought in to meet with the committee, the same as has been offered by the “fair elections act” committee. I believe that the govt is afraid that travelling to hear comments on the election bill will show the actual intent is to disenfranchise certain groups

    • And which groups would be disenfranchised by the new proposed act?

      Certainly, all people old enough to vote could make sure they have proper identification when voting, no?

      • Not if you have moved recently, live in an old age home, are a student at university in another province, live in a rural location without a street address etc. Approximately 100,000 Candians will lose their chance to vote. In the last three elections there have been only 8 convictions of voter fraud.. Do you think that justifies 100,000 losing their chance to vote?

        • 100,000 people are not losing their chance to vote. They’re being asked to prove that their eligible to vote. This is not an onerous thing to ask of people in a democracy. Or should we just allow anybody to vote, weather their Canadian or not? Weather their 18 or not? Our elections have rules, it’s not too much to ask that they be followed.

          • I didn’t know that we don’t currently observe the election rules that are in place, that we ” just allow anybody to vote, weather(sic) their(sic) Canadian or not” and that this bill simply aims to ensure that they’re followed.
            Thanks for the imformative post, stupie!

          • Why am I not surprised you didn’t know something.

          • So you’re aware that your comment was fictitious?
            So what is it you do here? Performance art? False-flag work?

          • The status quo is not acceptable to our new far right overlords because the people that their machinations will disenfranchise don’t matter to them. In fact for most of the far right and their shills like Rick they would rather that people without regular addresses just disappeared.
            the word citizen has no meaning for them, as does culture and society.

          • Rick Omen: They most certainly are being denied their right to vote. People in poverty who can’t afford the new fees for ID, seniors who immigrated and worked all their lives here, First Nations people who do not have a record of their birth, and many young people are being marginalized and kept from voting by this act, regardless of what you contend.

      • The law states that Citizens do not have to carry identification. This is a very important thing for people who know what it’s like to have to carry official ID and have to present it on the street when asked to by police or any other state functionary. Clearly those on the far right like you cannot remember the lessons of history with this regard.

        It is also highly ironic that people like you thought that registering weapons was a gross intrusion into people’s privacy; but cannot see the totalitarian underpinnings of requiring people to carry state approved ID and punishing them for not doing so by restricting their voting rights.

        • Complete hogwash! Nobody is requiring that people carry their ID at all times and must present them to police.

          It’s a simple policy that if you want to vote, you should be able to prove your eligible to vote.

          I don’t hear screams of opposition to being required to produce ID to buy cigarettes or booze. Or having to carry a drivers license with you when you drive. Do you think that’s totalitarian also?

          • Oh deary me, how the shills froth
            Voting and not infringing on that right are charter rights.
            Smoking, drinking and even driving are not, they are privileges.
            You are making a category error and you do look silly

        • ID is required to purchase a weapon, you complete idiot.

          • Again owning a weapon is not a right enshrined in the Charter.
            Be careful who you call an idiot when you make the same error that Rick made after he was told about it. We all make mistakes but only the real numpty does so without learning from it.

          • ID is required to purchase a weapon, you complete idiot. What you called irony was in fact just your own utter stupidity. Complete, total, utter stupidity.
            The real irony is that you utter the word totalitarian in reference to id, when at the same time you call smoking and drinking “privileges”. We need government permission to smoke and drink! The totalitarian is you.

          • Settle petal, you’ll do yourself a mischief if you carry on like that.

            Booze, ciggies, guns, cars these are all things that you can do or don’t have to do. In order to do them you have to deal with folk who will sell you booze ciggies, guns etc.
            No where in the Charter is your right to booze, ciggies etc enshrined as a right. You can go and look if you want but it isn’t there. So the government can put all the restrictions they like on those products if they want to. One of those restrictions is age, so the private suppliers of those goods and services don’t have to serve you if they can’t determine your age and if they refuse to serve you then that is their call and not infringing on a Charter right.

            However voting is enshrined in the Charter as an absolute right and that is administered by the Government not by a bar or 711 somewhere. when government seeks to impinge on the absolute right to vote they have some serious justification to do. Once you’ve reached adulthood and registered as a voter then you as a citizen can vote as is your right according to the Charter. Any stipulations beyond the bare minimum threatens that right and cannot be taken lightly.
            Insisting that people have to have a home, picture ID with an address on it means that you are disenfranchising citizens who don’t have a regular home or don’t want to get a picture ID for whatever reason and is therefore taking away their Charter right.

            This isn’t hard numpty

          • Changing your argument in the middle doesn’t invalidate the complete and total utter stupidity of what you previously said. Now you’ve tried to do it twice. You’ve tried to ignore the stupidity you wrote and gone off on a tangent about something else, something else completely unrelated to what I said.

            You said it was ironic that people are in favour of voter id due to their position on guns, when in fact nobody anywhere disputes the need for ID to buy guns.

            You then said smoking and drinking are privileges, which means the only reason we can smoke and drink is because we have been granted permission by the state, which is at the same time so utterly ridiculous and also so horribly totalitarian I need to say nothing more.

            So now I’m supposed to start paying attention to this latest stupidity you are writing even though it has nothing to do with what I said before.

            Yes, voting is a charter right! So what? Nobody is taking it away, you fool. Almost every single country in the OECD except Canada and the USA requires ID to vote, and nobody except idiots like you is trying to claim that France, Italy, Sweden and Germany are not free countries!

          • I agree prohibition was totally ridiculous, but the state took the right to drink alcohol away in the early 19C in the USA and any state could do likewise today. Smoking is being prohibited more and more and it wouldn’t take much more in terms of legislation to ban it altogether, or restrict it to your own home.
            So your idea that the state doesn’t think that smoking and drinking are privileges that can be revoked anytime a majority of those in Parliament wish to shows just who the fool is. It’s been done before in many places and isn’t ridiculous to anyone with a functioning brain because it has happened.

            Canada unlike a lot of OECD countries doesn’t require its citizens to carry ID cards. Canada has a Charter that enshrines every citizen a right to vote. That’s the Status Quo right now.
            Any attempt to make it law to produce federal ID to be shown before a citizen can vote is restricting a citizen’s right to vote from the situation as it is now. This infringes on the Charter of Rights section 3 and as such is ripe for a challenge.
            By definition a country with less restrictions than another must be more free, therefore in terms of election law Canada and the USA are more free than France, Sweden etc.

            Maths and basic logic really aren’t your strong point when it comes to supporting your heroes .

          • You didn’t actually read harebell’s argument, did you

          • I’m pleased that someone else read it and commented.
            I was pretty sure I had made a decent case, but was starting to wonder if I should use even smaller words and shorter sentences for the likes of SCF.
            As you appear to have had no problems with it, I’ll just go with my first thought that scf is clueless and cannot read what is written.

            Thanks for commenting

          • “It’s an incredible system,” said Nuri K. Elabbar, who traveled to the
            United States along with election officials from more than 60 countries
            to observe today’s presidential elections as part of a program run by
            the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). Your humble
            Cable guy visited polling places with some of the international
            officials this morning. Most of them agreed that in their countries,
            such an open voting system simply would not work.

            The most often noted difference between American elections among the
            visitors was that in most U.S. states, voters need no identification.

          • Nice, so now your suggesting that we should use Libya as a role model for our future legislation? But even more telling is that you left this paragraph out that came BETWEEN the two you cited.

            ““It’s very difficult to transfer this system as it is to any other country. This system is built according to trust and this trust needs a lot of procedures and a lot of education for other countries to adopt it,” Elabbar said.”

            1: Why would you leave this para out? Probably because it clarifies Elabbar’s amazement in that it is at the level of trust and honesty to be found in N America’s mature democracies.
            2: It didn’t fit with the point you were trying to make.

            Quote mining is lieing and that makes you a liar numpty

          • You appear to be some kind of paranoid schizophrenic. I left it out because there was no need to leave it in, you complete and total idiot, it’s completely and totally obvious that trust would be required, and it’s completely and totally obvious that it is therefore vulnerable to fraud. The only reason I added the comment is to support my assertion that almost all democracies require voter id. That’s it for me, I’ve had enough of your psychosis.
            I’m not exaggerating – some of the things you’ve written on this page appear to exhibit some form of mental illness.

          • Given the response by others, it appears that you are in the minority in being totally unable to understand what I’ve written. But then being hopeless shill with party blinkers on will do that to you.
            For all your blather and bluster you really don’t have anything of substance to say do you?

          • You seem to be under the mistaken impression that because only scf has called you a complete idiot today then maybe you are not a complete idiot.
            I would like to tell you that scf is correct.
            You are a complete idiot.

          • Ah the third part of the happy band arrives. Finally managed to break your mom’s password did you.

      • This is the logic of the poll tax. “If they really cared, they could set aside money to pay a fee, couldn’t they?” “If they really cared, they could take the day off work?” Etc.

        Requiring that people purchase a product for money (in this case photo ID) to exercise a fundamental democratic right is a poll tax. It stands in opposition to the principle of universal suffrage upon which democracy rests.

    • This government has every reason to fear the people. They have destroyed the democratic process and committed untold acts against the people. The segment of society that supports them is the segment that loves to indulge in sado-politics of the basest nature, because nothing makes them happier than seeing others scapegoated.

  2. Mr. Poilievre also said the committee would “improve” the bill, which again seems to suggest a certain openness to amendment.

    And given the contents of the bill as presented, I can well imagine PP’s ideas of “improvement.”

  3. I’m waiting to see my tax dollars spent on “Fair Elections Action Plan” ads. Then we will know how perverting democracy is good for Canadians

  4. Consultation with all of the provincial premiers has to take place, disadvantaging Canadians in elections for political party partisan gain is intrinsically uncanadian, is it not unconstitutional????

  5. The Federal government needs to be aware that there is a big divide developing between the people of Canada and their leadership. It is a serious issue of feeling ignored, dictated to – in short an authoritarian approach that is causing unrest. If it is not addressed, I believe it will result in more protests, disillusionment in the political process and hopelessness. I don’t believe any government wants that and this government has an opportunity to turn that state of affairs around by opening up this door for discussion.

  6. The CONs want to focus on the ID clauses of the act, but there are other aspects far more threatening, like the idea that an MP can choose the Returning officer for their riding. Since when do we allow one contestant in a race to decide who counts the vote? Since when do we put the power to choose who counts in the hands of one of the people running?
    There is no way the people in the race should be deciding who counts, or picking one of their friends to do the count. That, in and of itself is a recipe for cheating.
    Electoral officers should be chosen by the electors, not by the elected or the hoping to be elected.
    Its like a hockey team in a championship game getting to pick one of their teammates to be the referee and gold judge.

  7. town meetings are required in every polling district in Canada. if we are reforming how democracy is being processed in Canada then every district should be given a public forum on all the issues involved. I am tired of secret agendas. only a weak government creates legislation that destroys democracy.

  8. It is horrifying to me that this government is bringing in what appears to be a US style of voter suppression. We should be making it easier to vote, not harder. Voter fraud is very rare, and certainly has never swayed an election result in favour of one candidate. In Duncan, BC, we make it easier for people to vote municipally. We have a traveling poll that goes to care facilities or seniors homes, or to homes of disabled people. Canada should be doing the same.

  9. there should be cross country hearings because this will effect many disadvantaged people. This is so serious, that everyone should be able to have a say in the matter, not just the party in power.

  10. I find it interesting that the group most often investigated for improper procedures during elections have: Gutted the one organization that has the mandate to investigate election irregularities, and, are working to alter voter regulations in their favor, including increasing election spending limits and allowing for anonymous political donations. All while refusing to allow input from the other political parties or, the public. I used to be under the assumption that politicians were elected to work in the public’s interests.
    Of course, this is what I have come to expect from “Mr” Stephen Harper and his Corporatist Party of Canada.

  11. I am Canadian, for me this means that I live in a country that is run democratically. The process of that election was established and changed as the country grew. With the agreement of the population. Any change to the process that is not in consultation with the population should not be considered legal. A democracy is only valid with the support of the people. Lately there are a good number of bills that are being run through the Parlimentary system similar to the running of the Bulls in Spain. And similar to the running of the Bulls in Spain a good many rights of the people are being trampled. This government has closed labs, removed protections from pristine lands not giving a hoot about the pollution of the exploration. Harpers Legacy is a Toxic Waste Dump. I suggest the people of Canada build him a home on the tarsands. Let him drink the water and the air that he has traded for oil.

  12. The federal government has been saying that new permanent, non alterable, id cards will be issued to our natives – these cards have as yet to be seen! in the meantime only a very limited number of the old type of cards are being provided – whole reserves have far less than 1/2 of the population with ids of any kind. People cannot access medical or dental services without id —- and they certainly cannot vote without id. In other words, the present government is actively preventing our native people from receiving much that is rightfully theirs including to function as full citizens of this country! Furthermore, there are people who do not drive – the aged, the infirm, people who live without the expense of a car. All these people are being kept from exercising their right to vote. Finally, all individuals who have recently changed their domiciles, including university students studying in another province have been effectively disenfranchised! THIS IS A TOTAL DISREGARD OF OUR CONSTITUTION AND DEMOCRACY!!!!