CETA Talk this Thursday, 1 May 2014 & Report from “Is the Fair Elections Act Fair?”

CETA Poster

CETA Poster

Hello FairVoting Friends,

Below is a report from last week’s panel discussion on the Fair Elections Act for those of you who weren’t able to attend. It is encouraging that the government will amend the bill. We need to see what the government’s changes are to determine the extent of the improvements. Looking forward to that!

This Thursday is our debate on CETA with Stephen Woodworth and Angelo DiCaro. International trade agreements, The Auto Pact & NAFTA have changed the Canadian landscape in the past. With more trade deals in the works we can expect more change. Our forum on Thursday will help us understand the potential risks and benefits that come with trade deals. Please join us at 7:00pm at the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work, 120 Duke Street in Kitchener.

Kind regards,

Sharon Sommerville
for FVC -WR

Is the Fair Elections Act Fair? Communiqué

This past Wednesday, on April 23rd about seventy people gathered at W-K First United Mennonite Church to discuss the implications of The Fair Elections Act. The evening’s objective was to offer an educational opportunity to our community to learn about the nature and consequences of Bill C- 23.

The moderator of the event, Trudy Beaulne welcomed everyone and introduced the panelists: Peggy Nash, NDP MP for High Park, political scientist, Asst. Professor, Mathieu Doucet from the University of Waterloo and Sharon Sommerville, from the local chapter of FairVote Canada.

Peggy Nash opened the discussion with her comments on the bill. Ms. Nash said she is disturbed by the cynicism which so many Canadians approach politics. She stated that politicians must be held to account but cynicism doesn’t help change lives.

Ms. Nash addressed some of the needed changes to our democracy such as the FPTP electoral system, the need for more women parliamentarians & the attempted undermining of our electoral system via robocalls. Ms. Nash was very concerned about the elimination of vouching as she has constituents for whom losing vouching will have a very negative impact. Ms. Nash stressed the need to have a national debate on democratic reform. The debate would include national hearings to determine what Canadians think is important to keep and ideas on what changes to our electoral system should look like.

Assistant Prof. Doucet stated that Bill C-23 targets vulnerable Canadians and is therefore unfair but that we shouldn’t assume malice. He emphasized that proving who you are and where you live is easy for the middle-class but isn’t easy for everyone. The people most affected by Bill C-23 are disproportionally poor, young, aboriginal or seniors and to maintain a fair voting system it must be kept easy and accessible. According to Asst. Prof. Doucet Bill C-23 stacks the deck using strict voting laws that will impact those least likely to vote Conservative. In the end, the rules must apply equally to everyone.

Sharon Sommerville addressed voter ID cards, vouching and the politicizing of the voting process by introducing political appointed poll captains and their assistants. She looked at the numbers of people who would be removed from the voting process and suggested that that in close races those numbers could make a difference to the outcome. Ms. Sommerville suggested that as citizens we need to continue to push the government to withdrawn Bill C–23 and that new electoral reform legislation should be based on consultations with Elections Canada and Canadians to improve not undermine our democracy.

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