Tories outdo themselves in trying to silence Elections Canada chief

It's usually hard to get people excited about Parliamentary procedural shenanigans, but the Harper government managed to do that on Thursday with a move called "sleazy" and "scandalous."

The Conservatives appeared to be bending over backwards to keep Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand from testifying for 90 minutes at a House of Commons committee about the government's Orwellian election bill that proposes to muzzle Elections Canada.

Isn't it ironic?

The controversial act, being rammed through the Parliament without parliamentary public hearings, would prevent Mayrand from speaking out to encourage people to vote and would ban all related Elections Canada marketing and educational materials.

The bill also proposes voter-suppression tactics to make it harder for people to vote, and denies Elections Canada the kinds of powers required to investigate serious electoral wrongdoing, such as the robocalls fraud by Conservatives in 2011.

"Having spent more than two decades in the House of Commons, I can think of no prime minister who has been so focused on undermining electoral participation and public debate," former NDP leader Ed Broadbent wrote Thursday.

Maynard himself has spoken out against key provisions of the act, saying if the bill is passed without changes, many valid voters will not be able to vote. Elections Canada tabled proposed amendments Thursday, before Mayrand's delayed testimony began. (No wonder the Tories tried to thwart his testimony; Mayrand's analysis of the bill was brutal for the government.)

Here's what reporters had to say about procedural moves by the government to try and whittle down the time Maynard had to testify at a House of Commons committee studying the election act.

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