Requiring ID at the polls not 'that unreasonable,' Pierre Poilievre says
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, April 2, 2014 1:34PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 2, 2014 6:22PM EDT
The minister responsible for the controversial Fair Elections Act said Wednesday the Conservative government is “moving forward” with the proposed overhaul of federal election rules.
Pierre Poilievre told CTV’s Power Play that the most contentious change – eliminating voter vouching at the polls – is reasonable and supported by “the average Canadian.”
“We think that people should bring ID when they vote. You know, if you want to rent a car, get on an airplane, cross a border, you have to produce ID,” he said.
“If there were still movie rental stores, you’d have to produce ID to rent a video. We just don’t think it’s that unreasonable to expect that someone could choose from 39 acceptable forms of ID in order to cast their ballot.”
His comments came after two Conservative senators suggested that Poilievre may be open to amendments on the issue of voter vouching, according to The Canadian Press.
The Fair Elections Act, or Bill C-23,would prevent voters without proper identification from bringing someone to the polls to vouch for their identity. Critics say the move will disenfranchise low-income Canadians, aboriginals, voters who are visually impaired, seniors and students who may not have the required ID.
But Poilievre has been arguing that the overhaul will cut down on voter fraud and errors at polling stations. He said the proposed reforms would not require photo ID -- homeless people, for example, could bring a letter from their shelter to the polling station.
Asked why Canadians should not be allowed to simply bring their voter ID cards to the polls, Poilievre told Power Play that the card was wrong in one of six cases during the last election, according to Elections Canada. He also said that some people were erroneously mailed multiple voter ID cards, which allowed them to vote more than once.
Many electoral law experts, however, have said that voter fraud is not a widespread problem, as Poilievre has suggested.
Poilievre said Wednesday that average Canadians would agree that they need to bring ID when casting a ballot.
“And that’s why I think we’re winning this debate amongst everyday Canadians,” he said.
Commissioner raises issues with Bill C-23
Tuesday evening, the chief investigator of electoral fraud in Canada told a parliamentary committee that some investigations would “abort” if the proposed changes are implemented.
Elections commissioner Yves Cote said that if he isn’t given the power to compel testimony from witnesses, “some investigations will abort because of our inability to get at the facts.”
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said Wednesday that likely means investigations involving the Conservative Party, including an ongoing probe into fraudulent robocalls during the 2011 election, will be scrapped.
“Why is the prime minister shutting down elections Canada investigations into Conservative electoral fraud?” he asked during question period.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper replied that “exactly the opposite is true,” saying Bill C-23 would give the elections commissioner greater power and independence to investigate electoral fraud allegations.
With files from The Canadian Press