Preston Manning calls on government to unmuzzle Elections Canada in election act

Conservative movement stalwart Preston Manning on Saturday called on the government to drop provisions in their election act that curtail the ability of Elections Canada to promote voting.

Speaking at the Manning Networking Conference, Manning said all the parties should come together to fix the bill, now before the House of Commons, "to strengthen and expand rather than weaken the role of Elections Canada with respect to addressing the greatest challenge to the Canadian electoral system, which is not its unfairness but rather the steady decline in voter turnout all over the country."

Manning added that it "can be improved, as I say, by strengthening rather than reducing the role of Elections Canada and the Chief Electoral Officer with respect to promotional and educational activities designed to increase voter participation in Canada’s elections."

Manning's comments follow criticisms raised by opposition parties and advocacy groups about this and other sections of the bill.
(The proposed act would make it harder for youth and other under-represented groups to vote by tightening up voter ID rules and getting rid of "vouching." It would also create a huge spending loophole so political parties can spend more during campaigns. Elections Canada wanted investigative powers, but instead the bill is proposing to take away power from the agency by moving the Commissioner of Canada Elections office to within the Director of Public Prosecutions.)

Pierre Poilievre, who is the lead on the file as minister of state for democratic reform, has defended provisions in the bill that would ban Elections Canada from educating the public about the importance of voting as well as putting an end to the agency's educational program for schools.

Poilievre says it's time for the (neutral) agency to "focus on the basics" (where to vote), and leave it up to partisans (political parties) and others to do that kind of outreach work.

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