Excerpt from debate in the House of Commons Wednesday (May 23, 2018) during Government Orders on the Elections Modernization Act, Bill C-76, and the Liberal government’s move to send it to committee:
Hon. Karina Gould (Minister of Democratic Institutions): Madam Speaker, let us see what is in the bill. We are strengthening the powers of the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. That is very important because it allows us to safeguard the integrity of elections in Canada. There are situations that call for more powers, and that is covered by this bill.
[English] We are returning the ability of Canadians to vouch to establish their residency and to establish their identity. This is incredibly important. We know that Statistics Canada said there were 150,000 Canadians who were unable to vote in the last election because the Conservatives took that right away from them. We are looking at expanding the franchise to voters living abroad. We are also looking at ensuring that young people are engaged early on, establishing a youth voter registry for ages 14 to 17, so that they can be on the electoral list when they turn 18 and have that right to vote.
There is so much in this legislation that is good for democracy and good for Canadians. Let us work together, let us get this to committee, let us do the proper study, and let us get this in place for 2019.
Mrs. Cathy McLeod (Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, CPC): Madam Speaker, a number of times in question period our leader has stood up and asked a very specific question about some pieces of this legislation. He was never given a clear answer, so I do not think it is acceptable to say that we will go to committee and get clear answers.
It is clear that the Liberals are trying to rig this bill in their favour, and they are rushing it through and hoping Canadians do not notice. I would like the minister to stand up and tell us how they can possibly justify rigging an elections act in their favour and have ministers able to go out and do pre-writ spending instead of having the same kind of rules for the government as we do for the opposition.
Please stand up and tell us why you have not been able to give a clear answer on that issue and why you are rigging this bill to suit the Liberal Party of Canada.
The Assistant Deputy Speaker (Mrs. Carol Hughes): I want to remind the member to address questions to the Chair and not to the individual member.
Hon. Karina Gould: Madam Speaker, I think the member is confused because she is recalling Bill C-23 from the previous government. That is what happened when the Conservatives tried to rig the election in their favour. This bill is precisely trying to fix those abhorrent changes that were put forward with regard to democracy and to specifically ensure that we re-establish its integrity.
In the previous response I mentioned returning power to the commissioner of Elections Canada to compel testimony and lay charges, precisely because there were some members on the other side of the aisle who ended up in jail for their transgressions. Therefore, we are empowering the commissioner of Elections Canada to make sure he has the tools necessary to enforce the law and also to ensure that the law is strengthened so that we can uphold democracy here in this country.