Marathon debate over election bill amendments continues at committee
Contentious election law rewrite review must be completed by May 1
After working until nearly midnight on Tuesday, MPs reconvened on Wednesday evening to continue clause-by-clause review of the government's bid to rewrite Canada's election laws.
Over the course of the four-hour session, MPs dealt with some of the most controversial aspects of the bill, including the section on vouching, a practice that the government had initially hoped to eliminate entirely, a move that prompted widespread criticism from academics and legal experts, as well as students, seniors and First Nations communities.
In response, Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre put forward a compromise proposal that would institute a new system of attestation, which would allow voters without ID showing their current place of residence to register at the poll if they can get someone at the same polling station with proper ID to sign a written declaration attesting to their address.
After considerable discussion, that amendment passed with the support of all parties.
As New Democrat MP David Christopherson observed, although he still felt it didn't go far enough to ensure no eligible voter would be turned away due to lack of identification, when it comes to democracy, he believed that "half a loaf … is better than none."
As it turned out, the committee was also of one mind on a Bloc Québécois amendment that would have inserted a requirement for all voters to show their faces before casting a ballot.
After just a few minutes of discussion, that motion was summarily — and unanimously — voted down on the spot.
Earlier in the evening, the clause that would have given the party that won the previous election appoint central poll supervisors met a similar fate.
Clause-by-clause review is scheduled to resume on Thursday morning.
Read a recap of the meeting below: