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Harper’s “Un”fair Elections Act: Who can stop this runaway train?

Posted on April 9, 2014

fair elections act denise o'connorHarper’s “Un”fair Elections Act: Who can stop this runaway


By Denise O’Connor, PhD

What do former Auditor General, Sheila Fraser, the Editorial Boards of the

Globe and Mail and the Hamilton Spectator, US voting experts, the Chief of

Elections Canada and professors at Canadian universities who study the

principles and institutions of constitutional democracy have in common?

They all assert that the so-called “Fair Elections Act” will damage Canadian


What has been Stephen Harper’s response? To stick to his talking points and

send out Pierre Poilievre to tout the party line. One of the most concerning

aspects of the bill and what the National Post describes as “bizarre” is that

the Bill forbids Elections Canada from promoting democratic participation.

Huh, you say? We haven’t heard Stephen Harper defending that gem. Nor

does he defend the stripping away of Election Canada’s right to investigate

dirty tricks on electio day. But then, what is there to defend? This is

unconscionable and strikes at the heart of democracy.

Clearly Canadians take our democracy for granted. Our Conservative friends

and neighbours are naively trusting that Stephen Harper could not possibly

lead us down this path. After all, look how he’s standing up for democracy

in Ukraine (deflect, deflect). Others assume that our democracy cannot be

eroded. Sadly they are all mistaken. The Harper government does not appear

open to making amendments and the chorus of damning criticism is falling

on deaf ears, “rebutted” by stock talking points.

Stephen Harper promised us we wouldn’t recognize this country when he’s

finished with it. Yet I don’t think even the most suspicious of us expected

this. An attack on Health Care? Yes. An attack on science? Yes. Deregulation of

Environmental Law? Of course. But our democratic institutions???

It is beginning to seem that the only way to defeat this Bill is in the House

of Commons or the Senate. This is our last hope: that Conservative

backbenchers and the remaining Conservative Senators join the Opposition

Parties and vote this bill down. Will they do what’s right or will they continue

to collude with Harper’s attack on the fundamentals of our constitutional


Denise O’Coonor