Ottawa launches its electoral reform

Ottawa lance sa réforme électorale

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government wants to facilitate the lives of Canadians in exercising their right to vote, but on the other hand, it intends to tighten the rules affecting political parties, so that they don’t spend a lot of money to influence elections, and that they do not violate the privacy of voters.

“We are committed to maintaining the confidence of Canadians in our democratic system,” said the president of the treasury Board, Scott Brison, who serves as the minister of democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, who is on maternity leave.

Mr. Brison presented a bill on Monday aimed at achieving several commitments that the prime minister Justin Trudeau has made in the last election campaign, particularly on the expenditures of political parties and third parties before and during the campaigns.

It also has as objectives to guard against the new threats to democracy — such as the so-called false news — and prohibit any organization, including social networking sites, to sell deliberately the campaign advertising purchased with foreign funds.

“Canada is not immune to the threats of foreign influence and destabilization on the web,” said Mr. Brison.

If passed, the bill would limit the expenditure of political parties devoted to advertisements partisan before the election period. The limit would be approximately $ 1.5 million in 2019. There is currently no limit on spending before the election.

Third parties, for their part, would be to impose an expenditure ceiling of $ 10,000 per electoral district — up to a million dollars in total — to the advertisements and partisan activities, as well as the surveys related to the elections.

When the election campaign would be launched, however, they may spend up to $ 500,000, which is higher the current limit. However, it would be prohibited from accepting funds from abroad, according to the draft law.

The bill would also provide greater investigative powers to the Commissioner of canada elections.

A law in the digital age

The draft law also aims at the modernization of the Canada elections Act, which will take account of the new campaigns on the web, and issues relating to the privacy of internet users.

Bill C-76 would force the political parties to create and publish a policy detailing the way in which they protect the privacy of voters. This policy should specify how the party collects the data of potential voters, and how this information will be protected and used.

The text of the law also contains measures to make voting more accessible: it provides that the advance polling stations are open for 12 hours, as well as the creation of a registry of future voters between the ages of 14 to 17 years of age.

The Trudeau government had already introduced some reforms in November 2016, in order to dismantle some of the measures adopted by the conservatives, in their Law, on the integrity of the election – which légiférait in particular on the identification of the voters.

This bill, which has not advanced in the legislative process, is included in the new bill.

The liberal government does not materialize, however, not his promise to create an independent commission that would be responsible for organizing the leaders ‘ debate.

The director general of elections by acting, Stéphane Perrault, had raised doubts recently about the possibility of putting in place a major reform in time for the next elections.

Mr. Brison pointed out, however, that the bill was in response to the recommendations of Elections Canada. It therefore remains optimistic about the possibility of implementing these changes as soon as 2019.

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