“The fair elections act would keep everyday citizens in charge of democracy by putting special interests on the sidelines and rule-breakers out of the game altogether.” —Pierre Poilievre, the Minister for Democratic Reform
Last year, Elections Canada’s top dog teased a few proposals that would substantially revamp federal elections. John Geddes, Maclean’s Ottawa bureau chief, profiled the chief electoral officer’s hoped-for changes. “Marc Mayrand has big plans to reform the way we run elections,” read a headline. “Will the government listen?” Don’t be surprised to learn the answer might be no, absolutely not.
Yesterday, as Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre previewed the government’s new electoral reform bill, he seemed to suggest he’d consulted Mayrand on the government’s ideas.”We had a terrific and a very long meeting, at which I listened carefully to all of his ideas,” he said. Elections Canada took a different view, denying there’d been a substantive tête-à-tête between the two men.
If Poilievre did listen carefully, and did appreciate Mayrand’s ideas, he certainly didn’t take them to heart. Last October, Geddes outlined Mayrand’s ideas, which “span everything from enhancing Elections Canada’s clout when it comes to uncovering corruption, to imposing new reporting requirements on political parties, to streamlining the way polling stations are run on election days.”
This morning, newspapers widely report that the government’s legislation will, in fact, not beef up Mayrand’s powers. The bill will shift a lot of his investigatory powers to an independent body that will decide which alleged electoral misbehaviour ought to be investigated.
None of this should come as a surprise. The government has clashed with Mayrand time and again since his appointment in 2007. How the government sells the plan to skeptical voters who have robocalls on the mind is the next challenge. Enter Poilievre, the government’s democratic salesman-in-chief. Several months a cabinet minister, he now steps into the spotlight.
ABOVE THE FOLD
Globe: The U.S. and Europe may work to replace Ukraine’s faltering governing regime.
Post: A new elections reform bill will increase the per-voter contribution limit.
Star: Security officials insist they’ve never spied on innocent Canadians at home.
Citizen: Intelligence agencies told the Senate they used airport WiFi to analyze electronic patterns.
CBC: A report into a TransCanada pipeline explosion in Alberta came to light more than four years later.
CTV: Varsity hockey players who suffered concussions also suffered brain damage.
NNW: See the National Post.
Near: The feds hit their quota of parent and grandparent immigration applications in just 33 days.
Far: Seventy-five people died during sectarian violence in a town in the Central African Republic.