Democratic changes possible by next election, minister says
Scott Brison, the acting minister of democratic institutions, says he believes Elections Canada can implement changes included in a new bill in time for the next election.
On Monday, the Trudeau government tabled legislation proposing to limit the length of federal election campaigns, restrict the amount of spending allowed in the period immediately before a campaign and introduce new rules to regulate third-party political activity.
The new set of reforms to Canada's elections laws would also require political parties to disclose how and what information they collect from voters.
But the timeline has been called into question, with Canada's acting chief electoral officer Stéphane Perrault telling a committee last week that major changes to election laws should have been enacted by April of this year if they were to apply in time for the next federal election.
Brison thinks it's still feasible on the current timeline.
"Elections Canada was consulted deeply," he told The House.
Though Elections Canada can't act until C-76 becomes law, Brison said they can start planning and organizing before the legislation is passed.
Most of Election Canada's recommendations on changes to the electoral system have been included in this bill, which will make it easier to plan for, he added.
However, the NDP and Conservative MPs who follow this file aren't convinced this bill will be ready in time for next year — or that it will adequately protect Canadians' privacy or stop foreign interference.
"It sounds to me like they're going to try and rush this through as quickly as possible. How do they expect this to be done in the best interest of democracy when there's not time to actually look at this," Blake Richards told The House.
His NDP counterpart Nathan Cullen agreed, that the bill is too late and still has major gaps.
Both said getting ready for the next election isn't necessarily a good excuse to ram the bill through the House of Commons and Senate.
"You shouldn't make generational changes to our democracy in a rush," Cullen said.