Pample the Moose: Open Letter on the Fair Elections Act

Over the weekend, I was asked to sign an open letter regarding the proposed “Fair Elections Act”, a seriously-flawed piece of legislation with an Orwellian name.  I was happy to sign it, particularly as the recipient of a diversionary robocall in Guelph on voting day of the last federal election.  The open letter, signed by many Canadian professors, appeared in the National Post and Le Devoir today.  I encourage you to read the letter, which outlines a number of key concerns.

The press release accompanying the letter reads as follows:

FAIR ELECTIONS ACT WOULD HARM CANADIAN DEMOCRACY, SAY EXPERTS

An open letter from democracy experts challenging key proposals in the Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) was sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Members of Parliament today. The letter is signed by over 150 professors at Canadian universities who teach and conduct research on the principles and practices of constitutional democracies, including 15 past presidents of the Canadian Political Science Association. It appeared in the National Post on Tuesday, March 11.  http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/03/11/dont-undermine-elections-canada/

The professors believe the Bill’s proposal to eliminate the vouching system and the use of voter information cards as ID in federal elections would decrease voter participation, especially among youth, senior citizens, and First Nations citizens. Elections Canada’s capacity to investigate electoral infractions and raise public awareness about the importance of voting would also be compromised. Also of concern are proposed reforms to campaign finance rules and expense reporting, which would allow political parties to dramatically increase their campaign coffers and spend more on political advertising. Giving money even greater influence on electoral outcomes undermines principles of political fairness and citizens’ equality, they say.

The letter’s authors are urging the Government to facilitate wider consultation on Bill C-23 at the committee level, allowing extensive testimony from both experts and ordinary Canadians.

MEDIA: for more information, contact Monique Deveaux 905-869-5599 mdeveaux@uoguelph.ca

Interviews:

Electoral law; voting rights; campaign finance:
Yasmin Dawood: Assistant Professor of Law, University of Toronto
Contact:yasmin.dawood@utoronto.ca  Phone: 416-819-9462  (cell) 416-946-7829 (office)

Democratic institutions, constitutional reform, citizen engagement:
Maxwell A. Cameron: Professor of Political Science, University of British Columbia
Contact:Max.Cameron@ubc.caPhone: (011) 51-945-576-220 (cell) or by Skype: maxwellcameron

Democracy; political inequality:
Monique Deveaux: Professor of Philosophy and Canada Research Chair, University of Guelph
Contact: mdeveaux@uoguelph.caPhone: 905-869-5599

Democracy; citizen engagement; political representation:
Melissa Williams: Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
Contact:melissa.williams@utoronto.caPhone: 416-978-8220 (office) 647-991-5838 (cell)

Influence of money on politics; public trust; citizen engagement:
Patti Tamara Lenard: Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Public & International Affairs, University of Ottawa Contact: Patti.Lenard@uottawa.caPhone: 613-796-6647 (cell)

French media interviews: Daniel Weinstock, Professor of Law, McGill University: 514-952-3763

La Loi sur l’intégrité des élections menacerait la démocratie canadienne selon des experts

Des professeurs experts en démocratie ont envoyé aujourd’hui une lettre ouverte contestant des propositions clés de la Loi sur l’intégrité des élections (projet de loi C-23) au premier ministre Stephen Harper ainsi qu’aux membres du parlement. La lettre est signée par plus de 150 professeurs d’universités canadiennes qui enseignent et conduisent des recherches sur les principes et les pratiques des démocraties constitutionnelles, incluant 15 présidents passés de l’Association canadienne de science politique.

http://www.ledevoir.com/politique/canada/402209/loisurlintegritedeselections-lettre-ouverte-au-premier-ministre-stephen-harper-et-au-parlement-du-canada

Les professeurs croient que la proposition, contenue dans le projet de loi, visant à éliminer le système des répondants ainsi que l’utilisation de la carte d’information de l’électeur à titre de pièce d’identité pour voter lors des élections fédérales diminuerait la participation des électeurs, surtout parmi les jeunes, les aînés et les citoyens des Premières Nations. La capacité d’Élections Canada d’enquêter sur les infractions à la loi électorale et de promouvoir l’importance de voter serait également compromise. Une autre préoccupation des professeurs concerne les réformes proposées du processus de contrôle du financement des campagnes et des dépenses électorales. Ces réformes permettraient aux partis politiques d’augmenter de manière significative leur budget de campagne électorale et de dépenser davantage en publicité partisane. Selon les professeurs, donner à l’argent une influence encore plus grande sur les résultats des élections mine le principe d’égalité des chances électorales.

Les auteurs de la lettre demandent au gouvernement de rendre possible une consultation plus large sur le projet de loi C-23 au niveau du comité qui permettrait à la fois aux experts et aux citoyens de pouvoir témoigner et participer activement au processus consultatif.

CONTACT PRESSE: média francais:
Daniel Weinstock, Professeur, Faculté de droit, McGill: 514-952-3763/danielweins@gmail.com;
André Blais, CRC en études électorales, U de Montréal: 514-343-6111 x40564

Influence of money on politics; public trust; citizen engagement:
Patti Tamara Lenard: Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Public & International Affairs, University of Ottawa Contact: Patti.Lenard@uottawa.caPhone: 613-796-6647 (cell)

Electoral law; voting rights; campaign finance:
Yasmin Dawood: Assistant Professor of Law, University of Toronto
Contact:yasmin.dawood@utoronto.ca Phone: 416-819-9462  (cell) 416-946-7829 (office)

Democratic institutions, constitutional reform, citizen engagement:
Maxwell A. Cameron: Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia
Contact:Max.Cameron@ubc.caPhone: (011) 51-945-576-220 (cell)
or by Skype: maxwellcameron [Dr. Cameron is abroad but happy to field media calls]

Democracy and political inequality:
Monique Deveaux: Professor of Philosophy and Canada Research Chair, University of Guelph
Contact: mdeveaux@uoguelph.caPhone: 905-869-5599

Democracy; citizen engagement; political representation:
Melissa Williams: Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
Contact:melissa.williams@utoronto.caPhone: 416-978-8220 (office) 647-991-5838 (cell)

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