Reform elections in haste, repent at leisure

After months of stalling, the Conservatives are ready for action

by Paul Wells

Pierre Poilievre

An interesting line from this story about the last time the government nearly introduced reforms to the Elections Act, 10 months ago: “Officials had even planned an early morning technical briefing on the bill for reporters.” Huh. When Tim Uppal was notionally running the show, the government thought it was important to give reporters time to understand major changes to our elections rules before the debate starts, rather than to have them catch up on the fly.

But Uppal had to hoist his bill after members of the Conservative caucus raised (still unexplained) objections to his plans. So the early-morning tech briefing was cancelled, Uppal was replaced by Pierre Poilievre, and today the tech briefing came at a much more comfortable hour—an hour after Poilievre gave his version of the bill’s contents to reporters two blocks away from any copy of the bill he was describing. My copy runs to 118 pages.

But at least Parliamentarians will get to debate the bill properly. Starting tomorrow! Second reading, the (relatively) substantive debate, usually follows a bill’s introduction at a much longer interval. To give everyone a chance to read it, consider its effects and develop their arguments, you know. This time, a bill that took two ministers to “get right,” however this government defines that notion, will go straight to debate. It’ll be interesting to see how much time House Leader Peter Van Loan allocates for that debate. Much or little? Guess. No, guess.

The government is in the business of dismissing concerns like those I raise here as “process arguments,” and I’ve done that once or twice myself. But I’m not sure what an election is if it’s not a process. Getting this process right is a serious concern of serious democracies. And already, colleagues are finding changes in the bill that Poilievre chose not to highlight in his remarks.

On the substance of the bill, I’ll—of necessity, and because I haven’t often written about the nuts and bolts of the election laws—offer only a couple of preliminary thoughts. There’s much to like here. The absurd election-night ban on broadcasting, transmitting or, lately, tweeting election results before the last poll closes is gone. (That’s what Stephen Harper was talking about when he wrote, in an NCC fundraising letter in 2001, that Elections Canada was staffed by “jackasses.”) Donation limits go up a bit, and the practice of “vouching,” by which you can vote without ID if you bring a registered friend who says you’re you, will end. That’ll get a lot of scrutiny, because it may disenfranchise some voters, but I’m not sure its real effect will be significant. Other measures are listed here.

Poilievre’s decision to move the Commissioner of Elections into the public prosecutor’s office caught everyone by surprise. At the briefing, officials were asked whether anyone had ever recommended such a change. They could not name anyone who had.




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Reform elections in haste, repent at leisure

  1. Poilievre’s decision to move the Commissioner of Elections into the
    public prosecutor’s office caught everyone by surprise. At the briefing,
    officials were asked whether anyone had ever recommended such a change.
    They could not name anyone who had.

    Would certainly like to understand this better. The current state of affairs around prosecutions is an absolute joke.

    • john, where’s the outrage over the bum’s rush approach to such pivotal legislation?

      • We’ll see if that’s what it turns out to be. I’m a bit behind on my “how a bill becomes a law” studies but this does end up going through committees right?

        I’m kind of not surprised by the abuse-of-journalists here (and yes I’ll acknowledge that’s probably what this is). They don’t agree with the CPC that EC is biased (or they agree but don’t care). Poilievre knows whatever he does in this area is going to be met with attacks and resistance from the press so he’s picking a fight with them in advance and making it about that.

        • But even the public hasn’t been consulted or had time to consider all of this. I guess we have to disagree on the matter of press bias, but big changes to the way we elect governments deserve a full public vetting, I’d argue. If not the press, why not directly communicate and solicit input on their intentions in advance of introducing it to the House? Saying that the meanies in the press would oppose it is not a valid excuse to circumvent open and transparent process. And it’s not like all of this was a major platform item in the last election.

          • Fair points all, although “Democratic Reform” has been a cabinet position for quite a while now. It had to do something eventually. It could also be that the zeal with which EC has gone after the CPC for robocalls while giving breaks to the Liberals on leadership campaign loans and Adscam played a factor.

          • I would tend to class voter suppression as a greater threat to our democracy than leadership contest finances. But you’re right that they’ve been making some form of noise about this for a while – it’s not as out of the blue as I suggested.

          • Yeah…but bags of undocumented cash sprayed around Quebec ridings is worse than all of them…and has resulted in zero charges ever laid by EC.

          • But lots of bizarre conspiracy theories from folks like you. There was an inquiry. Some charges have been laid. But there’s the little difficulty of making them stick. Such a pity we have innocent until proven as a central pillar of out justice system.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • You still have to have a hope of proving it, right. The kind of thing i’m talking about is where’s the missing 40 mil or the 100mil or whatever the figure is now. The Gomery inquiry did stipulate a figure, if i recall the LPC had to repay what? A couple of million at most?

          • I have to prove what somebody admitted to under oath in a public inquiry???

          • Your hedging John. There’s no denying the LPC was guilty as hell, at least we know their fund raisers were. I’m taking about the ridiclous claims of stealing as much as 100million from the tp.

          • I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the breaking of elections financing laws which the LPC admitted to under oath and which EC has chosen not to prosecute. Try to keep up.

          • So i’m slow. Was that in your link – the LPC admitting under oath it broke financing laws? I was under the impression the sponsorhip plan was aimed at promoting Canada no matter how misguided and crooked it turned out t be.

          • Extremely slow.

            Yes, it’s at the link. The quoted parts that I cut and paste are the admissions of Liberal bag-men knowingly violating EC financing laws in 1997 & 2000.

          • I’m simply not qualified to judge why they haven’t charged them with violating any laws. Neither are you. [ if you'd like to point me at a good journalistic source that argues why this is ]It’s why i always view your selective research skeptically.
            I wiil say though since i’ve been frustrated at how slow or reluctant EC have been to prosecute Tory infractions [as opposed to the media] that i find them timid if anything. Still, timid doesn’t equal biased in my book.

          • Liberals violating EC laws: “I’m simply not qualified to judge why they haven’t charged them with violating any laws.”

            Conservatives violating EC laws: “i’ve been frustrated at how slow or reluctant EC have been to prosecute Tory infractions [as opposed to the media] that i find them timid if anything”

            What makes you qualified to judge one and not the other?

            Are you a journalist?

          • Well, that is rather my point isn’t it? It’s just my feeling on what i’ve read and observed in the media. But it isn’t conclusive enough to say EC’s Canada is crooked…neither is your view to the contrary.
            In short neither of us are happy with the pace or determination of EC to get to the bottom of stuff.
            Chances are then that they lack sufficient powers. This bill will arguably not help on that score. Not if i know SH.

          • No. Some members of the liberal party claimed they did something, and other members of the liberal party denied it.

            There is a major difference between members of the party, and The Party.

          • Actually, this link shows some members of the liberal party admitted they did things, and others denied it. That is not proof, or even a “Liberal party” admission.

            The RCMP have investigated – people have been charged with what the RCMP believe they can prove.

          • Actually, this link shows some members of the liberal party admitted
            they did things, and others denied it. That is not proof, or even a
            “Liberal party” admission.

            Wow. Impressive. This is a new level of denial, even for you Gayle.

            Can you at the very least acknowledge that these admissions, under oath, even if they do not constitute an “admission” in your partisan mind, should have at least caused an EC *investigation*? Can you throw me a frickin bone here?

          • Maybe it is the plain English that is throwing you off.

            You claim the Liberal Party admitted wrongdoing, but your link does not support that. It supports your contention that some members of the liberal party admitted to wrongdoing – not the party.

            In any event, the Elections Act, as it existed in 2005, when those statements were made, had a statute of limitations of 7 years. These statements were referring to the 1997 election, which was 8 years previous. Ergo, EC had no legal right to do anything.

            Look it up – s. 514

            http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/stat/sc-2000-c-9/32805/sc-2000-c-9.html#history

          • Read it again. Fradulent activity in the 2000 election was also referenced.

          • Well donations were referenced, but your quotes about about liberal party members admitting they breached the EA all refer to dealings outside the statue of limitations.

            There is an allegation that money was paid to campaign workers in the 2000 election, but the next line indicates the workers denied that allegation. That is hardly sufficient evidence to justify the time and money required to open an investigation – especially since this all was already being investigated by the RCMP.

          • LOL.

            “Vote Liberal. Because by the time you find out we broke the law it will be too late to do anything about it.”

            That’s a winning argument right there Gayle.

          • Except that is not at all what I said.

            Let us recap:

            John “EC is picking on the conservatives because it did not investigate the liberals during the sponsorship scandal”

            Gayle “The law did not allow them to investigate the liberals”

            John “Wow Gayle. The liberals confessed too late to be prosecuted. What a stupid reason to support them.”

            Now, do you see how the last statement had nothing to do with the first two, and in particular, had nothing at all to do with anything I have said on this topic?

          • I won’t argue with your comment, but surely those words apply to the current government as well.

          • You should let it go and quit playing with words.

          • Yes – reading words accurately and literally is “playing”.

          • Why would EC investigate something that had nothing to do with an election? Adscam was about funds for countering the Quebec Referendum that were directed into some Liberal-connected ad firms, not an election.

            Hey, but bags of undocumented cash got sprayed around Muskoka too…that was all suposed to be ‘Border Infrastructure’, remember? ‘My Little Crony’ Clement and John ‘Bear’ Baird lied to parliament outright, and then had their own little circle of ‘special friends’ to decide who got it, and even created their own ‘paperwork’ out of thin air. They then browbeat AG Sheila Fraser into playing down her criticism, even though she found the whole process ‘deeply disturbing’. It sure was…but no one got charged, and as head of the Treasury Board, you can bet Clement has done literally less than nothing to correct the problem. After all, how else is he supposed to get re-elected without taxpayer cash to spray around? It’s not like he’s got a charming personality that wins him friends or anything…in fact, quite the opposite.

          • Why would EC investigate something that had nothing to do with an election?

            “Confirmed he got $50,000 from Brault through Commando
            Communications Marketing and $50,000 cash to pay eight Liberal workers during 2000 election.”

            “Confirmed he received $120,000 cash in three instalments from Michel Béliveau to cover the expenses of candidates in 1997 election but no payments for the 2000 election.

            Says he took the cash in 1997 and distributed it to election workers.”

            “Solicited between $250,000 and $300,000 from Corriveau during 1997 election campaign.

            Received between $75,000 and $100,000 cash in an envelope in 1997 from Corriveau. Transaction was never entered in the party’s books. “I didn’t even ask for a receipt,” he told the inquiry. Admits practice violated election laws.”

            You were saying?

          • “The program was originally established as an effort to raise awareness of the Government of Canada’s contributions to Quebec industries and other activities in order to counter the actions of the Parti Québécois government of the province that worked to promote Quebec independence.”

            That some money was eventually directed to Liberal campaigns was indeed a scandal, but the whole affair was way beyond that.

            “In the end the Commission concluded that $2 million was awarded in
            contracts without a proper bidding process, $250,000 was added to one
            contract price for no additional work, and $1.5 million was awarded for
            work that was never done, of which $1 million had to be repaid. The
            overall operating cost of the Commission was $14 million.”

            Compare that to Crony Tony’s $50 million Spend-a-palooza…now that would be a public inquiry you could run on pay-per-view. And it was completely free of subtlety.

          • Oh dear…you were doing great until the ‘persecution complex’ came out. If there was any ‘zeal’ in going after the CPC perhaps it had something to do with the almost brazen nature of the transgressions. You’re just upset that the Liberals (and NDP at times) are way more subtle. in the way they play the rules. ‘Subtle’ is just not the Harper Way.

          • You’re just upset that the Liberals are way more subtle. in the way they play the rules.

            http://www.cbc.ca/news2/background/groupaction/follow_the_money.html

            See Marc-Yvon Cote, Michel Beliveau, and Benoit Corbeil. Pay special attention to the phrase “Admits practice violated election laws.”

            That’s pretty much the exact opposite of “subtle”.

          • You call brown paper envelopes ‘subtle’? This kickback scheme was brilliant by comparison. Hey, Liberals did it too! In fact, NDP did it too.

          • Governments don’t and can’t ‘consult’ on every bill: that would lead to paralysis. Its Government’s job to lead, to set a course. Public passes judgement on that Gov’ts actions at election time.

          • Democracy = election and nought in between. Interesting thesis you have there. I think you just managed to throw hundreds of years of democratic nuance right out the window.

          • And in the vein of – Harper, Van Loan (omnibus) and Nickelson(‘whats the problem with him’ -’disdain’? referring to M.P. from Malpaque whose bill was defeated yesterday) full steam ahead etc whatever the talk on the opposition side or Canadians who don’t agree.

          • I think passing bills that are unworkable, unconstitutional, or don’t have their desired effect would lead to paralysis faster than seeking relevant expertise beforehand to avoid that (I’m thinking of that delightful “veiled voter” law that requiring photo id that did not empower Elections officials to match them to the voter presenting it). And consulting is also built into the Parliamentary process at the committee stage. So they can consult on every bill, and generally do.

          • Too bad we don’t have a dedicated body whose job it is to give their consent to each and every bill after sober second thought, usually letting it pass but stopping some egregious measures.

        • More circular arguments…jeez it must be circular argument day. I must remember to tick it off my calender next year.

        • Yes, the media, Elections Canada, the RCMP, the civil service etc etc etc.

          All the people who are biased against the conservatives.

          As I always say, Harper’s greatest achievement was convincing people like you that he is perfect in every way, and that anyone who says anything remotely critical is biased.

          • No media bias?
            Why did they report that there were 38,000 complaints to EC over robocalls?
            It clearly was a lie.
            Are the media just very very very stupid?

          • The same media, you will recall, who overwhelmingly endorsed the conservatives in 2011.

            But hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of your little paranoid conspiracy theory. God forbid you hold conservatives accountable when things go bad for them. Accountability is for the other guys.

    • We have public prosecutors and a police force. We don’t let the police prosecute the cases in court.

      Elections Canada was the administrator, the police force, and the prosecutor. Now it will only be the administrator and the police force.

    • 118 pages. There’s a bit of complexity in there. That sounds hard. Wouldn’t it be much easier to simply have Justin stride to a podium and make a dramatic decree that “from now on there will be no more bad elections”.
      Justin could feel good about himself for a bit, his supporters can come on sites like this and vehemently proclaim that there will be no more bad elections by virtue of “Justin’s word”, and Parliament could have another rousing bout of hysterical laughter.
      A win, win, I’d say.

      • Hi Biff

        That is totally right. This is not about Harper at all – or the fact he is trying to fast track a bill that he clearly does not want the rest of us to understand.

        It is about Trudeau!

        How unlike you to post something so completely and utterly off topic. You are slipping.

        ha ha ha ha ha

      • Perfect! :) Your post, that is.

  2. It’s entirely possible that the changes in this bill are good. Why on earth is the government trying so hard to prevent us from finding out, though? Elections are the key to everything else – we can’t mess them up without severe consequences. Some evidence they’re not being messed up would be welcome.

    • What do you mean ‘prevent’? The text of the Bill will be public, it’ll be debated in Parliament and published in papers. I’m unaware of the constitutional req’t to inform the press (to their satisafaction) about the contents of the Bill before tabling it.

      • PW makes it pretty clear. 118-page bill impacting an officer of Parliament and the entire election process moves to 2nd reading in one day? Technical briefing cannot be attended by journalists who wish to help accurately inform the public? Note that even a CPC-friendly columnist would have no way of assisting the government in this, never mind anyone else. Also note that I have no way of learning about the bill and getting my views to my MP in time for debate. I dislike that.

        • couple of things: Its not the job of journalists, CPC-friendly, or otherwise to ‘assist’ the government, its not their job to impede the government, its their job to sell newspapers/magazines/page views. There is a quaint way of letting your views be known, we call it an election.

          • That’s a neat trick. If you don’t like what the government is doing to our electoral process, and aren’t given sufficient time to vet and debate just what the heck they’re doing before it’s done, then fix it by voting them out the next election.

            You know, that is if no one notices the footnote on page 114 that makes it illegal for a voter to vote for any party other than the CPC.

          • Correct, though a public sector media entity like CBC or PBS might have other goals as well, but get what you’re saying. How about my concern that I have no way to learn about this bill? Are you suggesting a change to the election laws should take effect, and I should just vote based on how I feel about the process on election day? Surely information should be free and available, and I should be afforded a way to communicate my support or concerns.

          • For someone ‘with no way’ to get any into you seem remarkably well informed, so I can only presume that information IS available, it IS accessible. Now shld it be MORE accessible? MORE available, thats certainly a debatable point.

          • The only sources I have are Wells, and other journalists who are being prevented from learning details of the bill. I’m lucky to have strong online access, but someone who does not have internet access would have literally no way of knowing about this in time, since it will hit page A3 or whatever tomorrow.

            I have no copy of the bill, and no time to read it and decide what I think before debate starts tomorrow. So yes, more accessible and more available are conclusively proven for me.

          • That’s the very definition of rationalization and circular argument.

            See you seem informed. I guess limiting debate and leaving stuff out of pressers until the minister gets all his selective tps out there aint so bad after all.

          • NO IT IS NOT.

          • And one party is setting all the rules to that election with perfunctory debate and consultation.

          • I think that was check mate.

          • Now that is putting the cart before the horse, no? Vote before you are informed. Please do not patronise Canadians by telling us that we should not get our news from the media. That is up to us. You choose how you would like to get your news. The more outlets that can sift through the information and provide analysis the better.

          • If they rewrite the election laws in such a way as to hamper the election process or rig it in their favour, it will be a bit late by then – won’t it?

            Not saying that’s what is happening here, but given your approach it could well happen and you’d just say “Oh well!”

          • What part of the bill does any of that?
            And you have over a year to read the bill before the next election…

          • You’re in the same camp as kingcambie, I see – voters get no say between elections and opposition / backbenchers have no function beyond comic relief.

            Proper study of a bill improves it. Ramming it through without proper study increases the likelihood of flaws that will get the bill (or portions thereof) struck down by the courts.

            Less costly in the long run to get it right BEFORE it becomes law.

      • Advance tps from VL perhaps? Sure sound like it. Did you read PWs piece at all?

      • Now, I am not sure whether you are naive or just glossing over the facts. The ability to get critical information such as this out requires many channels, media being just one, but an important one. If you are not using all of the channels then you are either a poor communications strategist or your objective is not to communicate as widely as possible. I for one would like the media to have an opportunity to tell the story, I will decide what to believe or not. Even those who do not buy the media story would not argue that they should be challenged in their reporting.

  3. “Poilievre’s decision to move the Commissioner of Elections into the public prosecutor’s office” I think it’ll be hard to spin this as CPC DECREASING independence of EC oversight. If the worst that can be said about this bill is that the ‘reveal’ to journalists was clumsy, I think the Dominion will survive.

    • I think it will be quite easy to spin this as decreasing independence of EC oversight actually.

    • So, they’re taking the lead investigator for Elections Canada out of Elections Canada and putting him in another office, while limiting the actions of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada to sharing information with the public on how to be a candidate, how to be added to the voter list, how to vote, what identification to use, and ensuring people with disabilities can get into polling stations to cast a ballot.

      Now, whether this move is good or bad is an open question, but if you’re taking the power of investigation away from Elections Canada, and what’s more, moving their lead investigator out of EC and into a completely different department, how is that not decreasing the oversight of Elections Canada? You may argue that they’re REPLACING the oversight of EC with new oversight from OUTSIDE of EC. You can even argue that Elections Canada shouldn’t be investigating violations of the Elections Act in the first place, so gutting their investigations unit and moving it to another department makes sense. However, if the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada will no longer be involved in deciding what investigations are to be pursued, and the person doing the investigations isn’t even under the CEO, or attached to Elections Canada at all, that’s pretty axiomatically decreasing the oversight of Elections Canada.

      • Its ultimately not important if the security of Canadian elections is secured by some entity called ‘Elections Canada’, its important that fairness can be secured. Changing the line authority is a good idea. I don’t think people can honestly say that the system where the Commissioner is selected by, AND reports to, the Chief Electoral Officer is preferable to going through Director of Public Prosecutions.

        • Jeez and i thought the CEO was answerable to the Parliament of Canada, all of it. I guess that’s not truly accountable though is it?

          • sure CEO is, but not the guy who actually enforces the rules: the Commissioner. Old way is the Commissioner is appointed by the Electoral Officer. Sorry, but that is waaay too cozy. Having Commissioner appoiinted through Director of Public Prosecutions is a lot better, a lot fairer.

          • So make the commissioner answerable to Parliament too. This splitting of the office is just way to convenient when you factor in the other moves to blunt the influence of the CEO of EC.

      • For example, an investigator and prosecutor independent of EC, could investigate the apparent collusion between the Liberal Party and EC in not prosecuting 2006 leadership candidates for illegal fundraising…i.e. having outstanding debts which clearly violate campaign contribution limits. EC is clearly ignoring the law in this case. The dollars amounts are far larger than in the Del Mastro case. Why?

        And why was EC allowed to make a closed door deal to settle illegal union donations to the NDP leadership convention in the form of mispriced advertising. Again the dollar amounts were much larger than in the Del Mastro case.

        i.e. corruption within EC itself could be investigated, which it can’t now.

        • This is a pretty good argument for moving the investigative powers, so thanks for that.

          That said, are you certain that Elections Canada couldn’t be investigated today for alleged malfeasance? Also, are we actually certain that the move to the Office of Public Prosecutions actually DOES give the EC the ability to investigate Elections Canada?

          • But if we’re talking about the same things I think the NDP instance they were clearly in the wrong, had obtained a legal opinion which just happened to be off, were upfront and co-operative, and arrived at a reasonable fine which was publicly announced. None of those factors seem to be present in the worst of the CPC affairs. It seems that investigations and fines like that are exactly what elections Canada should be doing.

            There may even be a specialization argument, in that its good to have people well versed in election matters look into wrongdoing, teh same way there are specialized investigators and prosecutors for the Securities Commissions (that argument might be slightly harder to make out(.

        • And why has the DPP never investigated Gazebo Tony for that $50M that he liberated from border security and sprinkled – I’d like to say “liberally” but you might try to twist that into “it was spent on JT” – like fertilizer across the Muskokas?

          I’ll see your bureaucratic bias and raise you one.

        • I can help you with this.

          The liberal candidates did not illegally fundraise. They raised money completely in accordance with the law as it stood at the time. After they raised that money – after the leadership race, the NDP and CPC together passed legislation that retroactively applied. That legislation prevented the liberal candidates from paying those loans off, because it severely restricted their ability to raise money.

          So – raise money based on one set of rules, and then have those rules changed in order to completely screw your ability to repay that money.

          Anyone who is charged is going to argue their rights were violated – and they will win on that basis.

          Try again.

          • But Martha Hall Findlay, as a Liberal, WAS able to pay off her outstanding 2006 loans under the NEW rules.

            How then would you explain that one away, eh.

          • Easy – her debt was lower and she was able to find donors.

            Rae and Ignatieff paid theirs off too.

            You do understand the change in the law was significant, right? It lowered the maximum donation and instead of donors being able to donate once per year, they reduced that to a single payment. Ergo, candidates who could easily pay off the debt by donating to themselves are prevented from doing so. Candidates from a leadership race that happened 8 years ago, many of whom are no longer MP’s, have to find new donors to pay their debts. You know as well as I that is impossible.

          • Why was Pat Martin allowed to accept $5 million in ‘gifts’ from unions to pay off his libel suit settlement?

          • I have no idea – but then I don’t care.

            You guys are hilarious. Every time you come up with some evidence of EC bias that I shoot down, you desperately look for more. Soon all you have left is that the CEO of EC prefers the colour red to the colour blue – but it will not stop you from asserting that as evidence of bias.

    • In the current system, the reporting lines go to Parliament. In the proposed system, they go to the sitting government.

      Not stating that this is DECREASING INDEPENDENCE would be lying.

  4. “It’ll be interesting to see how much time House Leader Peter Van Loan
    allocates for that debate. Much or little? Guess. No, guess.”

    3.2.1…The clock is ticking. You snooze you lose opposition kinda guys. Sucks to be on that side of the House don’t it!

    • That’s truly the most egregious part of this. There’s some good things in this bill, but why do they insist on ramming things through via ominbus or rush? I’d love to hear from the usual posse of con supporters (Biff, Omen, etc..) about your take on Harper’s abandonment of open and transparent democratic process. Without reference to Trudeau (Sr or Jr), Chretien, Pearson, Mackenzie, etc., SVP.

      • I’ll save them the trouble…’cuz the opposition is opposing unfairly. They forced him to…the meanies.’

      • If they don’t pass bills, press and opposition claim its a ‘do nothing’ parliament that’s ‘exhausted’ of ideas, if they do pass bills, they’re ‘ramming’ them through. 90% of this debate is just partisans cheering for their teams.

        • What nonsense. There’s a middle road – democratic process – that lies between doing nothing and abusing parliamentary majority to act like dictators.

          • and who decides whats the ‘middle road’? The Press? Talk about nonsense.

          • Need a shovel?

            This govt never seems to have any difficulty speaking for their constituents and by passing the media when it suits them.

          • For crissake. As much as I detested the smug paternalism of Chretien and Mulroney, at least they had the courage of their convictions. Whether or not you agreed with Free Trade, Mulroney didn’t try to sneak it in under cover of night. The Clarity Act was a fairly bookish reaction to Chretien’s asleep-at-the-wheel treatment of separatism, yet was done as a deliberate and forthright action. But at least those governments owned their decisions – no matter how detestable to many voters.

            I am so fu**ing fed up with Harper and Co’s, and their sycophants’, perpetual victimhood status. There’s not a thing they do that isn’t the fault of the press, the courts, the electoral system, scientists – I can go on. Anything but them, and you. Grow a set. Get behind your ideas. Stop sneaking or forcing them through. Incrementalism is amounting to little more than stealing a few coins from Dad’s jar every day, or watering down his whisky after you take a few shots, hoping he doesn’t notice.

            However that saying goes about a hero dying once, but a coward dying a thousand deaths, it increasingly sums up the record of Harper, and the nauseating kneejerk defense by some of everything he does.

          • Tut tut. Well’s be after you. He seems to be a fan of incrementalism as a tool for advancing your agenda without too much risk of serious upset. And you can always retreat and live to fight another day. Perfect cover for a guy who knows his view of the country is marginal, has minority support at best.
            I’m with you. Be a man, own your[Harper] decisions and you might occasionally be surprised how much support you actually have in the country by making a fair and open case.
            Harper’s afraid to death to show his workings. It’s one of his greatest weakness and he’ll never see it for what it is.

          • That’s the thing – many of us aren’t all that opposed (and sometimes in favour) of Harper’s policies. But as the saying goes about ends and means.

            At the risk of Wells smacking me down and handing me steak knives (I’d prefer grapefruit spoons, if available), I have too sensed a bit of the admiration for strategy possibly overshadowing critical instincts. On the other hand, he’s one of the very few journalists that does an admirable job of taking his own politics out of the picture.

          • Agree with your last point. He’s a bit old fashioned in a good sort of way.
            I wouldn’t worry about the steak knives though. The media is too broke to hand out plastic cutlery these days.

          • You should get pissed off more often, well said.

          • communist.

        • Ridiculous! It isn’t important what the press and opposition claim when you have a majority. What are they 7 years old that they can’t take a little criticism? Do they have a tongue in their heads to defend themselves or not!
          If that’s your best defense you don’t deserve to have a majority at all.

  5. Paul – Do you find the change, whereby expenses incurred in soliciting money from existing party donors are now not counted against campaigns, as significant? Also, there’s some hamstringing of investigatory powers into electoral wrongdoings – that seems questionable, at best. I really wish you’d panic about this sort of thing more. :)

    • The provision is necessary because it protects a lot of individual political activity. Like sending out invitations to a backyard barbecue in Rosedale to a fundraiser with Justin Trudeau. One figures the cost of invitations and postage might take a host over the individual contribution limit.

      It also allows a union to bulk e-mail its members about a NDP fundraiser for their local candidate at the union hall.

      • Things can be necessary and significant at the same time. The latter usually requires some consideration, regardless of the former.

        • Yeah, those came to mind for me as well. Looks like a lot of the changes are directly aimed at allowing them to do without worry the things they’ve been getting caught doing and getting in trouble for. “That’s against the law? Guess we’ll have to change that!”

          Which explains the rush to push it through before anyone gets a good look…

      • There’s no “protection” needed – assuming the campaigns are capable of using calculators to do basic math.
        This will simply be used to send out campaign messages with a plea to donate or attend such and such. In other words – a loophole to exceed spending limits.

  6. “The measure would exempt as election expenses “the commercial value
    of services provided to a registered party for the purpose of soliciting
    — by mail, telephone or other electronic means — monetary
    contributions.”

    The exemption would apply to services soliciting donations from each
    person who has donated $20 or more to the party, any of its riding
    associations or candidates, or leadership candidates in the five years
    before an election.

    Parties and candidates can spend thousands of dollars soliciting donations both in and out of an election campaign.

    The measure isn’t mentioned in the documents provided to reporters to explain the bill’s proposed changes.”

    Is it fair to say that some early fears this might somehow only benefit the CPC are unfounded? But the key to this is that parties can spend a lot more money soliciting money. And all together now, who has the most contribution room available?
    This might not hurt the Liberals so much if they keep on raking in the dough at the same rate they currently are. But it is bound to hamper the ndp somewhat, and lord help smaller parties unless they want to borrow on margin…perhaps the CPC might loan them a couple of bucks.
    The fact that PP would leave it out of the reporters first look is simply pathetic.

  7. I agree with Wells regarding this Bill.
    There`s much to like here.

    • Er, it’s dangerous to just assume that’s all he thinks about it.

    • From the analyses I’ve seen so far (including a very good accounting by Thwim on another thread) I agree. But there also seems to be some items to dislike, and a few that at minimum raise eyebrows and could do with some explanation before signing off…

      It is a bill worthy of consideration, discussion and debate. So why are the CPC so hot to push it through? They ought to know such behaviour automatically makes anyone who isn’t a diehard Harper fan very suspicious… what little easter eggs have they hidden in the depths of this bill?

  8. Boohoohoo why didn’t Elections Canada do something about the Sponsorship Scandal. Boohoohoo Elections Canada are meany-potatoheads…

    • Especially since they had no legal authority to do anything.

      • You’re correct. It seems Elections Canada has no legal authority to EVER go after the Liberals any of the many times they’ve broken election laws.

        • Well of course that is not what I said. But then what I actually said does not help your argument, so I can understand why you ignored it.

  9. John Geddes @Geddes28
    So @PierrePoilievre ‘s reforms won’t let elections officials compel evidence, as the Chief Electoral Officer asks: www2.macleans.ca/2013/10/15/q-a…

    Can’t say i’m shocked to be told this.

    • Only judges can compel evidence, not even the police can make you talk if you don’t want to. I don’t want to live in a land where any investigator or officer can force you to incriminate yourself before you get in front of a judge and jury.

      • He was talking about documentary evidence, not frigging water boarding people. Myrand has been complaining he was getting zero cooperation from the Conservatives. Yo know, the guys who are our govt right now. That worry you they can just not cooperate with an agency of Parliament? It does me.

        • Is there a difference whether you’re forced into incriminating yourself in an interview or by having your documents taken from your office/house? If an investigator wants documents he/she should have to get a warrant. I like moving the investigation function away from EC and to the Office of Public Prosecutions. This takes away the excuse that these paranoid Conservatives have about Mayrand having it in for them.

      • Er, if you don’t cough up the docs you may never get to face a judge or jury, and the people of this country may never get to hear the whole truth. See where i’m going Sig?

        • Your friendly neighbourhood EC investigator asks for some docs from suspect. “Suspect” says no. EC guy then goes to a judge and makes his case for a warrant. If its not a fishing expedition then the judge grants a warrant. If “suspect” still says no then he gets arrested for obstruction by the RCMP. That should be the order of events. I don’t want EC bureaucrats breaking down doors or going on fishing expeditions. The judge is the key to my argument.

          • Sorry but the CEO is an officer of Parliament. He’s entitled to know exactly what occurred on his watch as far as his responsibilities go. No one should be able to impede him by pleading the dog ate my home work.
            I suspect you’re conflating normal criminal practice with Parliamentary oversight. Mayrand has no powers of arrest nor is he able to lay charges – that would always have gone across to the existing prosecutor in any case.

          • That’s exactly what I’m doing. Election irregularities are most serious and are crimes. They undermine the foundation of our democracy. They should be investigated by full-time dedicated professionals with the appropriate legislative authority who follow constitutionally mandated rules of evidence gathering. Penalties should be serious for offenders.

            I’m not talking about candidates going $50 over their budgets because they forgot a receipt.

            Elections Canada CEO and his staff should be concentrating on running elections, while referring potentially serious irregularities to separate independent investigators. We don’t allow MPs to prosecute individuals, we separate the powers of government into various independent branches. Just like the Prime Minister cannot interfere with a prosecutor or police officer or judge, the EC CEO should not interfere with the investigator.

            That the current CEO Mayrand cannot currently arrest anyone or lay charges is a big part of the problem. With a seperate investigator the entire system becomes much stronger.

          • But you’re playing into the tories bogus[ at least unproven] line that EC is wearing an opposition team jersey. You have zero evidence to back up that assertion the CEO has been interfering with his own appointed commissioner. And as Hitch used to say, an assertion made without evidence can be dismissed w/o evidence. Your last point completely contradicts your opening assertion that EC is going after people when it should be up to a judge…which is it, make up your mind? Does he have too much power or too little.
            But i am coming around to the notion of a separate office – but not for your rather spurious reasons. But because the tories aren’t the only ones complaining ECs is slow to go after infractions. It took them an age to get in and out to court. My preference is they give the CEO more power. Failing that a separate officer may make Mayrand less timid in bringing charges forward, for fear of being accused of bias of any kind.
            As for having any faith that independent officers of Parliament are beyond the arm or influence of the PM, just look at some of the misfits he has appointed. One of them got a 400 grand payout to go away and keep her mouth shut. She’s still long gone s far as i know.

          • I said the Mayrand SHOULD NOT interfere with the Commissioner. I NEVER said that he DID interfere with him. I made no contradiction; Mayrand’s current situation is in itself a contradiction; (a) he is going after people AND (b) he has few powers to do anything about it (a futile situation.)

            I like your last paragraph. Mayrand and his employees spent over a year investigating Robocalls, Liberal leadership candidates, etc and generating reports, but with little power, nothing happened. Only when Maude Barleau took the Tories to court in Guelph did something happen.
            Thanks for the conversation, talk to you later.

  10. With the Conservative penchant for a bills name to be diametrically opposed to what is actually in it, the true name of this bill should be The Lie, Cheat & Steal Election Act.

  11. beware of media bias…..Paul is upset he wasn’t privately briefed about the bill the night before :(

  12. Why is it nearly everything this government does–positive or negative–has to be clouded in so much secrecy, evasiveness and obfuscation? I mean it quite sincerely in asking what is this government’s fear of clarity?

    • That is the most infuriating, frustrating thing about Harper. He is paranoid, even when he doesn’t have to be.

    • What secrecy?
      Read the bill.

      • I did. Did you?
        Evasiveness in rolling out this bill. Poilievre takes questions, but only before anyone’s had a reasonable opportunity to read the Bill.
        Secrecy in that he wasn’t willing to point out the components that would obviously be of concern to any rational observer: the Bill prohibits the Chief Electoral Officer from providing the public with info on an election–meaning he/she is muzzled on any voter fraud he/she finds, and we are now unlikely to ever hear about it.

        This Bill does a few small things right and slips in an outrageous justification to continue with the vote suppression the Conservative Party feels they are entitled to employ.

  13. Instead of them wanting to vote on things ask the citizens as soon as they talk its nothing good anyways they have more closed sessions then a crack house they should I take a blood test for drugs just look at the things they come up with

    • Regarding crack houses…..have you ever heard of the Elements of Style?
      Or basic grammar and punctuation?

  14. Union donations to federal politicians are illegal in Canada.
    Unless your name is Pat Martin, then they can give you $5 million to pay off your libel settlement.
    Funny how that works, kinda funny how the liberal leadership mob from 2006 still haven’t paid back their debts though the deadline was missed several years ago.
    But there was no bias at EC….

  15. When the media routinely lie through their teeth about Harper, why would he give them a heads up or even the time of day?

  16. This has created a bit of consternation I see.
    Some feel adrift and lost without having the media tell them what to think of this bill.
    NEWSFLASH!
    The media can read the bill now, and tell you what to think of it.

    BAAAA!! Baaaaaa Baaaaaa!

  17. “Reform elections in haste…”…I don’t believe this so called reform was presented in haste at all. This is very deliberate and thought out through the optics of ultra right wing attempt at controlling all possible variables thus putting all chances and odds on their side. This is managed to the hilt in their quest for unfettered power and of realizing their dream of becoming the natural governing party and of “destroying” the “hated” Liberals.

    So, please let’s not confuse the issue or minimize the sought after impact of this nefarious legislation.

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