Tories reject bid to soften election bill
The Canadian PressMonday, March 24, 2014
OTTAWA - Conservative MPs have rejected a bid to remove some of the most contentious provisions from the government's sweeping overhaul of Canada's election laws.
They've defeated an NDP motion which called on the government to abandon proposals to muzzle the chief electoral officer, eliminate the practice of vouching for voters without proper identification, and disallow the use of voter information cards as one piece of acceptable identification.
Critics of Bill C-23, including elections watchdog Marc Mayrand, say the proposals will result in thousands of voters being disenfranchised, particularly youth, new Canadians, aboriginals and seniors.
The motion was supported by other opposition parties but the Conservatives used their majority to defeat it by a vote of 149-131.
NDP democratic reform critic Craig Scott says he's disappointed not one Tory MP saw fit to break ranks, despite mounting public opposition to the bill.
The bill has been slammed by more than 150 academics in Canada and by a group of international election law experts.
An online petition against the bill has garnered more than 80,000 signatures and almost 1,000 people attended town halls organized the NDP in various cities last week to discuss its potential ramifications.
"I honestly think a certain threshold has been crossed in terms of awareness," Scott said in an interview Monday.
Nevertheless, he said it appears Conservative MPs "have drunk the Kool-Aid," are ignoring all the criticism and are intent on ramming the bill through by June.