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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

23% of NLers No Longer Eligible to Vote in Canada

If a federal election were held tomorrow, would you vote? Don't answer too quickly, you may not even have the right to cast a ballot anymore.

According to Elections Canada, thanks to an amendment to the Elections Act introduced by the Conservative government four months ago, over a million Canadians no longer have the right to vote.

The legislation requires all citizens to present a residential address that includes a street name and number in order to qualify for a ballot. The problem is that many Canadians living in rural areas use postal boxes or receive their mail through general delivery at a postal outlet. Those people, as things now stand, wouldn't qualify to vote if an election were held today.

According to a report issued to Parliament by Elections Canada, nation wide 4.4 per cent of otherwise eligible voters do not have the proper address now required by law.

That percentage is far higher in areas with large rural populations like Saskatchewan, the Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador, where more than 23% eligible voters in the province have been left without a voice.

The Conservative government and opposition parties say they are trying to rectify the problem but don't hold your breath for a quick fix. Remember, these are the same people who passed the faulty legislation in the first place. Though in all fairness an NDP spokesman was quick to point out today that his party had identified the problem from day one but the other parties refused to listen.

This is another in a string of flawed acts by Canada's goverment and a clear example of the lack of foresight and care MPs exhibit on a daily basis.

Legislation passed by the former Liberal government that allows potential terrorists to be held indefinately without trial and without being told the reason for their detention has been found by the Supreme Court to be in conflict with the charter of rights and freedoms. The legislation is now back before the House for amendment and reintroduction. It's expected to pass.

The Conservative Accountability Act, brought in after the Liberal spending scandal and intended to ensure that politicians were accountable to the public, has been amended 75 times since being introduced just over a year ago. It's unclear how many of those amendments were made to fix flaws in the legislation or how many might have been implemented to protect politicians from their own laws.

Now government has actually cut over a million voters from the voting lists and if the government falls before this flawed legislation is corrected and passed by the Commons the only hope those voters will have is if the Chief Electoral Officer is prepared to ensure that the voices of those voters are heard. This can be done by invoking what is known as his "adaptation power to ensure that no Canadian loses their right to vote." Of course it's at the discretion of the Chief Electoral Officer whether to invoke that privlege or not.

If the federal government can't even figure out something as simple as the fact that not everyone has a civic postal address what hope is there that they really understand the what was done to the Atlantic Accord or the complexities of something as complicated as the Atlantic fishery?

At the risk of repeating myself, Vive le Canada once again.

3 comments:

MrChills said...

I couldn't believe what I was reading this morning when I was forwarded the article.

It would be extremely interesting to see what percent of the 1.6 million PO boxes typically vote for a party other than the Conservatives or are currently dissatisfied with the current regime.

Patriot said...

Hi Mr. Chills,

I'm not necessarily saying this is some kind of conspiracy as the Librerals also voted for this mess. It does show how little the federal goverment knows about the country though.

As a side note, I expect most of those disenfranchised voters would be Liberal since the strongest (historically) conservative ridings have been on the Avalon in the St. John's area. Most of the rural addresses would be in rural NL and historically Liberal voters.

MrChills said...

It does show how little the federal goverment knows about the country though.

You hit it on the head with that statement... it backs up my personal feeling that our government could care less about anyone outside of our major cities.