Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Text Size

Critics argue Election Act isn't actually 'fair' at all

Christina Commisso,

The federal government's proposed Elections Act overhaul has proven to be a lightning rod for criticism. While the minister responsible for the bill, Pierre Poilievre staunchly defends the changes he says are largely aimed at eliminating voter fraud, members of the groups that could be most affected if the legislation passes -- students, seniors and First Nations peoples – argue it's actually a more fundamental swipe at Canada's democratic system.

Spokespersons from groups representing each of those demographics joined CTV's Question Period Sunday, to air their criticisms of the contentious act also known as Bill C-23.

Eliminating vouching would prevent many students, First Nations peoples, from voting

Under the current rules, "vouching" allows individuals without the proper ID to have someone vouch for them so them so they can still vote.

The Chief Electoral Officer says it's often a case of someone who can prove their identity, but not their current address. The bill also eliminates using a voter information card as a way to corroborate where you live.

Peter Dinsdale of the Assembly of First Nations says, while Indian status cards count as one piece of identification, it doesn't include an address.

"Far too many people live in overcrowded housing situations, many have just moved, or don't have any other form of ID, so removing that provision of the Act would disallow a lot of First Nations people from voting," Dinsdale told Question Period.

Proving one's address is also difficult for many students, says Jessica McCormick of the Canadian Federation of Students.

"Youth, and students particularly, move very frequently so it's very difficult to find that piece of ID that includes the address of the riding you want to vote in," she said.

Outreach and education restrictions placed on Elections Canada could dissuade voting

The Act would prohibit the Chief Electoral Officer from engaging in public education or democratic outreach to groups that are less likely to vote.

At a time when voter turnout is at a record-low, this aspect of the proposed legislation has many people scratching their heads.

Dinsdale says voting is a "touchy subject" on many reserves, as some First Nations peoples feel they shouldn't vote in federal elections. He said the Assembly of First Nations has been working with Elections Canada on education and outreach in some communities, which would be banned under the new act.

McCormick says the same is true on university and college campuses.

"Our organization has been working with Elections Canada for the last year to develop strategies to encourage youth to vote in the next election, to set up more polling stations on campuses and more robust education and outreach campaigns," she said. "With the introduction of Bill C-23 it's unclear if any of that will happen."

Voter fraud isn't top-of-mind for seniors, but they are worried about democracy

Ottawa has said the Fair Elections Act will effectively reduce voter fraud.

But Susan Eng of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) said a recent survey of 3,700 of its members showed seniors are more concerned about "candidate fraud" than voter fraud.

"Our members don't think there's voter fraud," she said. "The issue of robocalls was a big one for them."

Eng said seniors surveyed about Bill C-23 are not concerned about being unable to vote themselves, "but they worry about others (not being able to vote) and other aspects of the bill that basically erode democracy in their opinion."

Polling showed 80 per cent of CARP's members believe certain provisions in the bill are wrong.

"They saw it as actually making the electoral process seem more biases and supressing voter participation," Eng said.

CARP, the Canadian Federation of Students or the Assembly of First Nations say they were not consulted ahead of the bill's release.

"I do recall the minister saying he had spoken to 'people'," Eng said. "I'm not sure who those people are, but I hope they included some of our 300,000 members across the country."

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins