Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre says that he's spoken with many of his constituents about the so-called Fair Elections Act and that they were happy with the contents of the act.
Really? How many constituents has he spoken with? And who are they? Are they supporters?
I have the great misfortune of living in Poilievre's Nepean-Carleton riding and I've spoken about the Fair Elections Act with my neighbours and friends, who are also constituents. Know what? Not one of them likes the act. Not one of them thinks it's fair.
On a broader scope, I've discussed the act with other Canadians, who live in other ridings and other provinces, but who will be equally affected by the proposed changes.
And they all say it stinks.
In discussions about this act (among other political subjects: in case you didn't already know, I like to follow politics and often get in animated discussions over it), my friends and I agree that the vouching issue, while important, is being used as a smoke screen to pull attention away from a more-dangerous part of the act.
The act will give incumbent parties in each riding the power to name key election officials, who will oversee the voters at the polls. Until then, that job fell to an impartial Elections Canada official. But Poilievre thinks that Elections Canada has too much power, can investigate election irregularities and breaches in the election rules.
The Conservatives don't like being told that they are breaking laws. They don't like being called out on anything, for that matter. In the past, when department heads have blown the whistle on misdeeds and coverups by the government, the Conservative response has been to discredit that whistle blower.
Does anyone remember Chalk River? Afghanistan detainees?
Recently, Poilievre has verbally attacked Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand for speaking out on the proposed Fair Elections Act. Poilievre, who has never produced anything in his political career (how's that Strandherd Bridge coming along? Results?), whose only claim to fame is that he's been able to climb the ranks in the Conservative Party by having his head stuck so far up Stephen Harper's arse that he sees light every time Harper speaks, claims that Mayrand is condemning the act because he is power-hungry.
Poilievre says that Mayrand "wants more power, a bigger budget, and less accountability.” I'm sure he thought he was looking into a mirror when he said that.
So, Poilievre says that he's spoken to his constituents and they all like the act. First, I think he asked some of his staff. I don't think he asked real residents, unless they were close friends and Conservatives. I don't believe him. But even if he has talked to residents, he didn't ask enough people. I don't know anyone in his riding who likes it. The people I know think it's a bad act.
Many credible people, who have read the contents of the proposed bill, including Mayrand, the former Chief Electoral Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, many elections commissioners, and academics from across the country, have condemned it as an attack on Canadian democracy.
And then there's former auditor general, Sheila Fraser.
Fraser was praised by Harper over her uncovering of the sponsorship scandal, which lead to the end of the Liberal government. Harper has called Fraser "the mother of all accountants" and that she could be counted on to be fair, to call things for what they were.
"When you look at the people who may not be able to vote, when you look at the limitations that are being put on the chief electoral officer, when you see the difficulties, just the operational difficulties that are going to be created in all this, I think it's going to be very difficult to have a fair, a truly fair, election," she said this week.
Fraser not only finds troublesome problems with the Fair Elections Act, she has spoken out against Poilievre's smear campaign toward Mayrand. “To actually attack (Mayrand) for bringing forward his concerns is totally inappropriate,” she said.
If Poilievre and Harper fail to listen to Fraser, we will know that the only reason they want this bill to pass is that they don't want to listen to Canadians, that they only want what's best for the Conservative Party, that they do not want what's best for Canadians.
I'm not holding my breath.