Band-Aid Won’t Fix Elections Act Debacle: NDP

OTTAWA AND TIMMINS – The NDP blasted the government’s new proposal to amend the Elections Act that was introduced today in the House of Commons, because it still fails to solve all the problems created by the passage Bill C-31 last spring, which amended the Elections Act to substantially restrict the way people identify themselves.

“The government’s Bill C-31 tried to solve a problem, but was nothing but a disaster,” said NDP Democratic Reform Critic Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay). “It was little more than a ‘get tough on voting’ bill that has disenfranchised rural Canadians, First Nations, students and the homeless. Putting a band-aid on this won’t do the job.”

Earlier this week, Angus – who himself was made ineligible to vote by the Bill – proposed a straightforward solution to the government to amend the act in order to allow voters to swear under oath if they have no other identification. This amendment would insure that any eligible voter would not be denied the right to vote.

“The other parties all failed to do their homework on Bill C-31,” said NDP House Leader Libby Davies (Vancouver East). “The ink is barely dry on the Bill and already the Harper government is putting forward amendments to try and fix some of the problems they themselves have created.” Davies riding includes a high transient and homeless population affected by the Bill.

Davies also pointed out that the NDP proposed amendments to fix the Bill in the spring, but the other parties shot down the NDP’s proposals – after the Harper government and the Liberals agreed to a Bloc proposal to release private birthdate information to political parties.

“We want today’s Bill sent to committee and we expect a careful study,” declared Angus. “We are urging all parties to think the problems through carefully this time and take their responsibilities seriously.”