Politics·Live blog recap

Marathon debate over election bill amendments continues at committee

After working until nearly midnight on Tuesday, MPs reconvened to continue clause-by-clause review of the government's contentious election bill rewrite. Read a recap of Kady O'Malley liveblog of Wednesday night's meeting.

Contentious election law rewrite review must be completed by May 1

MPs on the procedure and House affairs committee are reviewing the government's elections bill clause by clause before a Thursday deadline. Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre signalled last week he was open to some changes to his bill. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

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.

By Thursday afternoon, committee members will have to get through more than 150 clauses that make up the 200-plus-page bill, as well as 344 amendments, including 45 put forward by the government. 

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:

Mobile users can read the live blog here.

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