Procedural wars: Fair Elections Act edition

The wrangling commences


Government House leader Peter Van Loan has now moved a time allocation motion for the Fair Elections Act—allotting three further days of debate at second reading. (How much debate should a bill have at second reading? Probably there needs to a full debate about time allocation and how the business of the House is managed, it’s not quite so easy, I don’t think, as to say time allocation is purely good or bad. But for the sake of anecdotal comparison: the Conservative government’s Accountability Act received three days of debate at second reading in 2006, while the former Liberal government’s election reform bill received seven days of debate in 2003.)

In advance of that motion for time allocation, the New Democrats pursued various moves to delay matters and attack the act—there was a motion to adjourn, followed by a slow vote, followed by a question of privilege concerning the translation services during the briefing for MPs on the Fair Elections Act and then Nathan Cullen got up on a point of order arguing that there is a discrepancy between the English and French texts of the bill.

Meanwhile, at the Procedure and House Affairs committee, NDP deputy leader David Christopherson moved the following motion on the eventual study of the Fair Elections Act.

That the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, upon receiving an order of reference from the House concerning C-23, amendment to the elections act, initiate a study on this legislation which will include the following:

– Hearing witnesses from, but not limited to, Elections Canada, Political Parties as defined under the Canada Elections Act, the Minister of State who introduced the bill, representatives of First nations, anti-poverty groups, groups representing persons with disabilities, groups representing youth advocates and students, as well as specific groups which have been active in society on elections rules, including Fair Vote Canada, SAMARA, Democracy Watch and the BC Civil Liberties Union,

– And that the Committee request to travel to all regions of Canada, (Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Northern Ontario, the Prairies, British Columbia and the North), as well as downtown urban settings (such as the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver) and rural and remote settings, and that the committee request that this travel take place in March and April 2014,

– And that the committee shall only proceed to clause by Clause consideration of this bill after these hearings have been completed, with a goal to commence clause by clause consideration for May 1, 2014.

The motion will presumably be dealt with at a subsequent meeting of the committee.

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