Bill C-23 a waste

Bill C-23 is bad for democracy and bad for Canada.

Bill C-23 is bad for democracy and bad for Canada.

That from Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who last week pledged that he would repeal Bill C-23, dubbed the Fair Elections Act, should it become law and should his party form government after next year’s election.

Trudeau is not the first to criticize the bill, and lately the NDP has been vocal in their criticism of it as well, frequently bringing the topic up in Question Period. Bill C-23 proposes a number of changes to how elections will run in Canada, most contested among them being making it impossible for ‘vouching’ votes and making it more difficult to provide sufficient identification to vote.

This new piece of legislation is frustrating for a number of reasons. First of all, is there nothing more important the government could be doing?

It’s hard to believe a bill making it more difficult to commit voter fraud is necessary when voter apathy is a problem with elections at every level. Why do we need to make it more difficult for people to vote illegally when they aren’t voting in the first place?

Not only that, some of the changes are pointless and won’t have any beneficial effects. For example, while eliminating vouching would be a nuisance for some, of the nearly 12.5 million voters in the 2011 federal election only 120,000 or so voters were vouched for. So, it would seem eliminating vouching wouldn’t have that much of an effect in the long run anyway.

Pierre Poilievre, the man behind Bill C-23, has said in addition to making voter fraud more difficult, it reins in Elections Canada who have failed to boost voter turnout.

This kind of backwards strategy begs the question, what is the real reasoning for the Conservatives implementing this bill. Do they think making it harder for people to vote will help them stay in power longer? Trudeau is right when he says that this bill is bad for democracy and therefore bad for Canada. Anything that makes voting more difficult is.

If the Conservative government really wanted to do a service to this country, it would be spending its time finding ways to make it easier to vote, rather than harder, as a way to get more voters out to the polls. Surely, making it easier would mean more voters, which means more citizens utilizing their rights and making their voices heard. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?