Inside Politics

Smaller parties join forces to fight proposed election law changes

From the Animal Alliance to the Marxist-Leninists to the Rhinos, some of Canada's lesser-known registered political parties have joined forces to combat the government's bid to rewrite the country's election laws.

In what may well be a Canadian political first, 11 of the 12 parties "currently," as the advisory discreetly puts it, "without representation in the House of Commons," have issued a joint statement outlining their collective and respective concerns with the controversial C-23, and vowing to work together, "from now until the next election, and beyond, if necessary" to "to protect Canadians from Stephen Harper's and the Conservatives' cowardly, self-serving attack on their fundamental right to vote."

The sole holdout would seem to be the United Party of Canada, which, somewhat ironically, is the only non-mainstream Elections Canada-recognized party not listed as a co-signatory. (I've sent a query to see if that was deliberate, or simply a case of not having been on the invite list for last week's mini-summit on the bill.

In any case, it's worth noting that the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee did get to hear from two of the named parties -- specifically, the Pirate Party and PACT (Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency), whose representatives made their case for a more level democratic playing field last week.

The Commons committee charged with studying the bill, meanwhile, heard from retired Conservative turned Independent MP Bill Casey, who gave MPs a crash course in how the current system penalizes non-party-aligned candidates by refusing to allow them to issue tax receipts outside the writ period, and forcing them to hand over surplus campaign funds after the vote.

Party candidates, in contrast, can raise money for future electoral bids in cooperation with their local riding association, to which they can also transfer leftover campaign funds.

The full text of the release, which was sent to the press gallery earlier today:

Bill C-23 Must Not Pass

Ottawa - April 11, 2014 - Registered political parties currently without representation in the House of Commons met in Ottawa to consider Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts.

The parties listed below agreed to issue the following statement.

These parties are also concerned about many provisions in Bill C-23 aside from those outlined in the statement and they encourage the media to contact them individually.

The Conservative Party of Canada, overseen by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, is hoping to steal the next federal election. Bill C-23, the so-called Fair Elections Act, is their game plan. We are working together to stop the Conservatives, and to protect every Canadian's right to vote in a fair and honest election that is free of voter suppression schemes, of election fraud, of the denial of fundamental rights, and all watched over by an independent and effective Elections Canada.

The Conservatives and Stephen Harper are terrified because they can't win a fair election; they hope they can win a rigged one.

Opposition to Stephen Harper's Bill C-23 is almost universal, condemned by national and international election officials and experts on democracy and elections. It is supported only by Conservative politicians who hope to benefit from its worst provisions. Bill C-23 helps people commit election fraud and get away with it; encourages mayhem, confusion, and long delays on election day; and deprives hundreds of thousand of Canadians of their right to vote.

Bill C-23 goes even further. It prevents Elections Canada from warning Canadians who are targeted by fraud and voter suppression schemes. It even bars Elections Canada from encouraging citizens to vote, especially youth, new Canadians and First Nations people.

From now until the next election and beyond, if necessary, we will be working together to protect Canadians from Stephen Harper's and the Conservatives' cowardly, self-serving attack on their fundamental right to vote. We will fight for our fellow Canadians and their hard won rights wherever we can--in the courts, in the streets, in elections, on social media, in class rooms--wherever Canadians who believe in democratic rights and honest government gather.

We reach out to all Canadians to help us stop Stephen Harper and the Conservatives stealing their elections and stealing their rights.

For further information contact:

Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada

• Canadian Action Party

Christian Heritage Party

Communist Party of Canada

Libertarian Party of Canada

Marijuana Party of Canada,

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada

Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency

Pirate Party of Canada

Progressive Canadian Party

Rhinoceros Party

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