Pierre Poilievre announces major changes to the Fair Elections Act

Oh by the way, some major changes to the Fair Elections Act

Pierre Poilievre agrees to adjust his bill

Canada's Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Pierre Poilievre, the minister of democratic reform, seemingly appearing before the cameras for the purposes of reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Senate reference, has just now segued from that into an announcement of what changes to the Fair Elections Act the government will accept.

The required time for retention of records on automated calls will be extended to three years from the original one year. The exemption of fundraising expenses from campaign spending limit will be eliminated. The chief electoral officer will be given authority to speak freely and participate in educational activities. Elections Canada will retain discretion to appoint central polling supervisors. Provisions will be made to ensure the chief electoral officer and the commissioner of elections can communicate once they are in separate offices. And instead of vouching, a version of Manitoba’s election law (specifically Section 2) will be used—so long as a voter can present one piece of identification with their name, they can sign a written oath attesting to their address, while another voter, with full identification, will be required to co-sign the oath.

Those who have been calling for such changes might cheer the government’s willingness to adjust—though the new alternative to the old vouching system should probably be run by the likes of Marc Mayrand and Harry Neufeld for comment.

So if you want to celebrate, you might rally around the idea that the system worked—legislation was proposed, scrutiny was applied and changes were made. If you wanted to quibble you might wonder whether these sorts of changes might’ve been arrived at earlier, thus saving everyone the grief of the last two months, if wider (or actual) consultation had been conducted before the Fair Elections Act was put before the House for a vote. At the very least, such consultation might’ve limited the odds of such consternation coming up. Or left observers less room to wonder about what might’ve been.