March 26, 2014 · 0 Comments
By James Matthews – Orangeville became part of a cross-Canada protest against what critics see as voter suppression measures in the Conservative government’s Fair Elections Act, Bill C23.
Demonstrations were held at 25 Conservative MPs’ offices from Halifax to Victoria, B.C.
In support of Let People Vote National Day of Action, about a dozen protestors converged outside Dufferin-Caledon MP David Tilson’s Broadway constituency office on Tuesday, despite below-zero temperatures, periodic flurries, and an Environment Canada Weather Office snow-squall warning.
Protestors brandished placards and a clear message: The ironically named Fair Elections Act makes the democratic process less fair. Many pedestrians stopped to hear and discuss through chattering teeth what the protest was about. Motorists signalled their support by blaring horns and flashing two-fingered peace signs as they drove by.
Local volunteers organized the event with national support by Leadnow.ca, the Council of Canadians, and the Canadian Federation of Students.
The day of action was inspired after a recent poll showed that a majority of Canadians oppose the provisions that could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, prevent Elections Canada from publicly reporting on election fraud, and cancel Elections Canada’s research and public education programs.
According to a press release, more than 82,000 people signed petitions against measures in the Fair Elections Act. The petitions call for Conservative MPs and senators to make key changes to the legislation or scrap the bill entirely.
A particular point of the legislation that affronts democracy, according to local organizer Franca De Angelis, are strict voter ID requirements that could exclude many voters at the next election’s polls in October 2015.
She said not being able to have one’s identity vouched for at the poll before a ballot is cast will make it difficult for many First Nations and poorer Canadians to participate in the election.
“There’s a lack of self respect in how they (federal Conservatives) bowl over the electorate,” Ms. De Angelis said. “Democracy. Without it, we don’t have much left.”
Pat Kelly, a Bolton resident, said the legislation is an attack on transparency in the electoral process. And that’s anything but fair, he said. Mechanisms that make it harder for fraud to be reported during an election – putting such authority in the hands of the elected – is much like putting the fox in charge of the hen house, he said.