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