Let's sum up what we know so far about the proposed changes.
- The incumbent candidate or incumbent party will have the power to appoint polling clerks. This gives the incumbent party a major advantage in the next election and could sweep irregularities under the rug. Is it only a coincidence that the party proposing this is the very party that would like to retain their majority government in 2015?
- Spending rules would be loosened in a manner that creates a loophole. Currently, if a party hires a company to solicit funds, it counts as an election expense capped based on the population of a given riding. The loophole in the new legislation would not only allow parties to use soliciting calls for fundraising, but also for support. Yearly donation limits per person would also be raised to $1,500 from $1,200. The savings would give a party with a lot of money the tools to raise even more money. This would benefit one party greatly: the Conservatives.
- The Chief Electoral Officer will be silenced through a new limit in what he/she can speak about. Many Canadians looked to Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand for answers when non-Conservative voters in over 200 ridings were subjected to an unprecedented act of voter suppression by misleading robocalls advising them of a phony change in voting location. If made into law, Mayrand would no longer be allowed to speak about investigations into election irregularities, nor would Elections Canada be allowed to create turnout campaigns to increase voter turnout.
- Voters will need to bring identification that proves a voter's address - notably a driver's license. Before 2007, being on the voter's list gave voters a free pass but as Conservative MPs cite an Elections Canada 7% error rate on voter information, voter ID has become a must for voting in federal elections. This move is estimated to consequently take away voting rights from over 100,000 people who don't have a driver's license. Based on demographics, those who would be barred on identification issues are more likely to vote for the opposition. Adding this new dimension would also make voting more difficult, possibly driving down an already low voter turn out. Who benefits from that? The Conservatives.
The bill is now in the senate where amendments are likely to be proposed but in the event the Conservative majority let's it pass, the bill would be catastrophic to our rights and freedoms as a whole - not to mention another black mark in the international community.