Inside Politics

NDP lays procedural groundwork for major rewrite of election bill

As Pierre Poilievre continue to play coy over whether he's open to recommendations on improving his bid to rewriting Canada's election laws, the New Democrats are getting ready to lay out the procedural groundwork necessary to ensure the all-party committee currently studying the so-dubbed Fair Elections Act will at least be able to consider making major changes to the bill.

Last week, NDP democratic reform critic Craig Scott served notice that he would be putting forward a motion that would allow the procedure and house affairs committee to "expand the scope of the bill in order to strengthen the role of the Commissioner of Canada Elections by allowing the Commissioner to seek relief through the courts to compel testimony."

Under parliamentary rules, without an explicit instruction from the House, such an amendment would likely be ruled out of order, as the bill has already passed second reading, which means the committee would only be able to make minor, technical changes before sending the bill back to the House.

During back-to-back appearances last week, both the current and former commissioners voiced their support of the proposal, which has also won the backing of the current and former chief electoral officers.

Last week, Scott attempted to garner the necessary Commons support for a similar motion, but the government used its majority to shut down the debate.

An NDP spokesperson told CBC News that at the moment, the party has no plans to move the motion when the Commons reconvenes this morning, but points out that "the opportunity exists."

Now that the motion has been added to the Order Paper, it could easily be called at a later date.

At press time, the committee is scheduled to wrap up hearings later this week, and is expected to report the bill back to the House, with or without amendments, by May 1st.

Tags: blackberry jungle, c-23, craig scott, election bill, procedure and house affairs

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