Posts Tagged ‘Conservatives’

So, I’ve been thinking, is the fight for democracy ever over?

Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed my home country, Egypt, fight to gain the freedom that many of us take for granted. I believed for many years that eventually Egyptians would realize their collective power, and demand a better society. They proved me right.

People risked their lives to topple a 30 year old regime. Then, when tyranny took route once more, they went out by the millions and risked everything for their cause.  They suffered, and will continue to suffer, many setbacks, as all nations do after shedding of the shackles of tyranny. And they know their fight is not over. But do we?

Many people will agree that Canada needs some form of electoral reform, and the Conservatives finally delivered. Unfortunately, the resulting proposed legislation made those same people regret asking for it.

This legislation has been thoroughly thrashed here, here and here. The fact that The Globe and Mail, the National Post and The Star all agree on something should be cause for concern. If you prefer video format, here’s the hilarious Rick Mercer summing up some of the problems with this bill.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Marc Mayrand, has also eviscerated the Fair Elections Act, outlining the many dangers being proposed. Marc Mayrand has been accused by the Conservatives of being biased against them, although they never answer why they would appoint someone biased against their party or why they wouldn’t remove a biased Chief Electoral Officer, as is within their power.

In 2011, only 61.1% of eligible Canadians voted in the general elections. That’s the 3rd worst in Canadian history, only beaten by 2008 and 2004. Yet, the government is introducing provision that could lower voter turn out, like making it illegal for Elections Canada to encourage people to vote and by getting rid of “vouching.”

Vouching was used by 120,000 Canadians to vote in the last elections because they didn’t have proper ID. Elections Canada estimate another 500,000 people didn’t vote in the last elections, because they didn’t have proper ID, which implies they didn’t know vouching was an option. While some of the rules regarding vouching aren’t followed when a person votes, there isn’t a single piece of evidence that any fraud has resulted from this practice. Conservative MP Brad Butt claimed he’d seen vouching used fraudulently, but that turned out to be not true either. Again, let’s turn to Rick Mercer on this.

The problems go on, with past winners deciding key positions at voting stations, raising campaign contributions, rewarding parties with pre-established donor lists, refusing to give Elections Canada the power it needs to investigate fraud (like the robocall incident of 2011) and makes the Chief electoral officer report to the Minster of Justice, rather than all of Parliament (that last one is the most worrisome).

This Act has to be stopped. This is going to be tough in a majority government situation, but we’ve done it in the past; specifically, the E-snooping bill. But that’s because we made it a big deal. We cared about our privacy and told the government that we will not accept such intrusion into our personal lives. We have to do the same here. We can’t only fight for our democracy when a tyrant tries to take over. We have to move in when someone tries to kneecap it from behind.

There are many things you can do. If you live in a Conservative MP’s riding, write them a letter. Many think this is a waste of time because Conservative MPs will never vote against a government bill, but they couldn’t be more wrong. If MPs are flooded with angry letters on any issue, they start to worry about their jobs in the next election, and push back against the PM to make changes to the bill. If you don’t, write a letter to whatever opposition MP you do have, and tell them you support their decision to fight this bill.

You can share this issue with others and convince them to also get involved. Be creative. Maybe write a cheque to an opposition party, take a picture and mail it to the Conservatives. OK that last one was a joke, but you get my meaning. If you have an idea on how to stop this bill, share it in the comments and we can do it together.

Unlike the many countries around the world fighting for democracy, we have very little to lose by fighting for it. But we have much to lose if don’t.