Bill C-23 Safeguards Freee and fair elections
Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 06:00 am
The integrity of Canada’s voting system is paramount to our democracy. That’s why our government recently introduced Bill C-23, the Fair Elections Act.
This Act helps safeguard our elections by making make our laws clearer and easier to follow. It will implement 38 of the Chief Electoral Officer’s past recommendations, addressing concerns raised by Canadians, various groups and think tanks, Elections Canada and parliamentarians.
As you may already know, one of the core changes introduced through this legislation is that voters must present personal identification at the polls. Most Canadians believe it is entirely reasonable to be expected to prove your identity when voting. In fact, the vast majority of voters – more than 99 per cent – already bring identification to the polls with them.
Requiring identification is a common practice across Canada; ID of some form is required to rent skis, board a commercial flight, or check-in to a hotel. It was even required to cast a ballot in Alberta’s recent municipal elections.
There are 39 acceptable forms of ID that one can bring to the polls including a driver’s license, provincial health card, birth certificate, a debit or credit card, or even a statement of benefits from a government agency.
To make voting even easier, our government will require that Elections Canada provide an extra day of polling, and publically advertise what forms of ID will be accepted at polling locations.
Bill C-23 also improves our system by giving election laws sharper teeth and by giving investigators a longer reach and a freer hand. It gives more independence to the Commissioner of Canada Elections, allowing them control over their staff and investigations, empowering them to seek tougher penalties for existing electoral offences, and providing more than a dozen new offences to combat big money, rogue calls and fraudulent voting.
I believe our democratic process is sacred. From the First and Second World Wars through to the recently ended mission in Afghanistan, thousands of Canadian soldiers have fought and died to preserve freedom the world over.
Through the women’s suffrage movement, generations of Canadians stood resolutely in the face of discrimination to achieve fairness and justice. All Albertans can be proud that the first women elected in Canada, and the British Empire, were elected here.
Considering all that these brave Canadians, and many others, sacrificed to secure democracy for future generations, I believe it is my duty as an elected official to ensure that our elections process is as free and fair as possible. Bill C-23 will achieve just that.