Thank you, Prime Minister.

And what have you done for authoritarian regimes today??

Election bill sends ‘very poor message’ to budding democracies

Proposed election changes set bad example for authoritarian countries trying to go democratic, expert says

By Laura Payton, CBC News Posted: Mar 21, 2014 7:45 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 21, 2014 7:54 PM ET

Proposed Fair Elections Act rebuked globally

Proposed Fair Elections Act rebuked globally 7:50

The Conservative government is trying to change Canadian election law in a way that is “deeply disturbing” and “sends a very poor message” to countries trying to become democracies, an international democracy expert says.

The proposed changes, contained in Bill C-23, include limiting the topics on which Canada’s chief electoral officer could speak, and eliminating vouching, a process that lets a voter vouch for another person in his or her riding to prove that person’s identity.

Question Period 20140207Pierre Poilievre, minister of state for democratic reform, is trying to change Canadian election law in a way that is ‘deeply disturbing’ and ‘sends a very poor message’ to countries trying to become democracies, an international democracy expert says. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

 

Andrew Reynolds, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was one of 18 professors from around the world who earlier this week signed an open letter about their concerns. Their letter came the week after an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper by 159 Canadian political science and law professors.

 

Reynolds calls Elections Canada “the pre-eminent example of an elections administration body.”

“Its autonomy, its independence, its capacity to enforce free and fair elections is something that is transported around the world,” he told Rosemary Barton in an interview on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

“Now, this legislation would severely do damage to the autonomy, to the independence, to the capacity of Elections Canada to manage good elections.”

‘Partisan mechanism?’

Reynolds said democracy advisers face a challenge in trying to persuade new governments to set up independent, autonomous election authorities.

“When a democratic, established democracy in the west like Canada seems to be curtailing its own ability to do that, it sends a very poor message to new countries in the Arab world, in Africa, in Asia, who are attempting to move from authoritarianism to democracy,” he said.

Reynolds said many of the bill’s measures would weaken Elections Canada in its ability to “enforce legitimate elections.”

Pierre Poilievre, the minister of state for democratic reform and the MP who tabled the bill, says Elections Canada’s numbers show “irregularities” in 25 per cent of vouching cases from the 2011 election. But Harry Neufeld, the election expert on whose report Poilievre bases his claims, says Poilievre is “selectively” reading the report.

Reynolds says there’s almost no evidence that vouching “is a window to voter fraud.”

“There’s huge evidence to show that vouching would, if it was taken away, curtail the rights and accessibility of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Canadians to vote,” Reynolds said, adding that the question is what is driving the proposal.

“Is it really fear of fraud and malfeasance? Or is it in fact a partisan mechanism to try and preclude some people from voting who should be legitimately voting?”

“In every case that we’ve seen a similar type of proposal, it has been about tilting the balance in favour of a given party,” he added.

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Unfair Elections Act

Is this this tipping point for Harper’s Regime? Andrew Coyne on Marc Mayrand’s testimony and recommended modifications to the Act.

Andrew Coyne: The Tories were right to be nervous.

Marc Mayrand shredded their ‘Fair Elections Act’ almost line by line

Andrew Coyne | March 7, 2014 9:29 PM ET More from Andrew Coyne | @acoyne

Chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand almost wasn't allowed to speak.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/
Adrian WyldChief electoral officer Marc Mayrand almost wasn’t allowed to speak in Committee. No wonder the Tories were so nervous. The government had been noticeably skittish about what Marc Mayrand would say before the Commons Procedure and House Affairs committee Thursday: not only had it kept the chief electoral officer largely out of the loop in the months before it introduced its landmark Fair Elections Act, but there was doubt whether he would even be allowed to testify about it afterwards. A promise to that effect had been made to the NDP’s David Christopherson the night before to persuade him to end his filibuster of the Act in committee. Yet on the day Mr. Mayrand’s testimony was interrupted by the calling of not one but two votes in the Commons just as he was scheduled to speak.

At any rate, at length he was allowed to give his testimony, at the end of which very little of the Act was left standing. The chief electoral officer, in his quiet, workmanlike way, simply shredded it, almost line for line, proposing more than two dozen amendments that would effectively rewrite the bill.

The provision banning “vouching” came in for particularly heavy fire: while the government insists the practice, by which voters who lack proper identification can have another voter vouch for them, has given rise to widespread voter fraud, Mr. Mayrand observed there was no evidence for this. It did not help the government’s position that the authority it cited in response, Harry Neufeld, author of a report on electoral irregularities in the 2011 election, later backed up Mr. Mayrand’s stance. (“I never said there was voter fraud,” he told Canadian Press.)

The treatment of Mr. Mayrand, like the misrepresentation of Mr. Neufeld’s report, is unfortunately of a piece with this government’s approach generally, in which secrecy, deception, and brute force are very much the watch words. But what is objectionable in ordinary legislation is intolerable in a bill such as this, one that touches upon the very heart of the democratic process. Of all bills, you would think, this is the one that should invite the most transparency, the most public input, the most reaching out to opposition parties, so as to leave no room for doubt that the fairness of elections had been preserved. Yet from the start, the very opposite course has been pursued.

Entrusting the matter to Pierre Poilievre, among the most ruthlessly partisan ministers in a government filled with ruthless partisans, was an early warning sign. Sure enough, not content with blindsiding the chief electoral officer, the minister — for Democratic Reform! — gave media and opposition members the merest sniff of the mammoth bill before thrusting it upon Parliament, where, after the usual curtailing of debate, it was packed off to committee, whose hearings will be likewise restricted (hence Mr. Christopherson’s filibuster). This is not how a government interested in fairness conducts itself.

But then, the speed and secrecy are understandable, in a way, since the closer one reads the bill, the worse it looks. It is not that the bill is all bad: some provisions, such as the limits on bequests to political parties or the stiffer penalties for election fraud, are quite welcome. But good or bad, what is true of every part of the bill is that it furthers the interests of the parties in general, and of the Conservative party in particular.

The bill would raise the limits on both contributions and spending. All parties would benefit from this — needlessly: there’s never been so much money in our politics — but the Conservatives, as the most successful fundraisers, would plainly benefit most. It would exempt from those limits expenses incurred to raise funds from previous donors: again, without justification, but again to the benefit of the party with the longest donor list — or the greatest willingness to abuse it, the distinction between a fundraising call and an advertisement being self-evidently hard to enforce.

It would allow incumbent parties, rather than Elections Canada, to choose important officers at polling stations: yet again, without offering any justification, and with the same potential for abuse. It would allow the parties to collect and assemble the so-called “bingo cards,” lists of who voted and who did not in each riding — information currently given out only to individual candidates — without any of the usual privacy safeguards, the parties not being subject to federal privacy legislation.

Elections Canada would be hamstrung in all sorts of ways. It would be forbidden from communicating with the public in anything but the most rudimentary terms — not even to encourage people to vote. It cannot be entirely coincidental that, as with the ban on vouching, the people most likely to be affected — the young, the poor, the marginalized — are the ones least likely to vote Conservative.

Likewise, the office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, charged with enforcing the elections laws, has not only been denied the power to compel evidence, as it had requested — federal parties do not even have to provide receipts for expenses — but has been hived off to a different section of the bureaucracy altogether, though it will be under much the same gag order: it is not even clear whether it will be allowed to communicate with Elections Canada. I leave it to the reader to judge who benefits from that.

The thing is just riddled with this sort of stuff. Perhaps each measure would not seem so troubling on its own; nor even would the whole if the government did not seem so intent on smuggling it into law. But as it is I think some alarm bells should really be going off.

***

Is the tipping point for Harper’s regime? Or was that the Senate Scandals?  Or will it be the combination?

 

The Rap Sheet

Duffy and Wright.

Time for a trial!!!

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/837418-rcmp-mike-duffy-nigel-wright-nov.html

This is a LONG document. A novella.

You can read it as a pdf-image at this site, or in text form.

A FEW PAGES OF THE TEXT DOCUMENT

p. 1

CANADA 
In the matter of an Application for Production

PROVINCE OF ONTARIO Orders pursuant to section 487.012 of the Criminal
Code.
EAST REGION 

INFORMATION TO OBTAIN PRODUCTION ORDERS

This is the Information of Corporal Greg Horton a Peace Officer of the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police, in the city of Ottawa, Ontario.

I have reasonable grounds to believe and do believe that offences contrary to an Act of
Parliament have been committed, to wit:

0 Michael Duffy between February 6, 2013, a11d March 28, 2013, at Ottawa, Ontario, being a
member of Parliament did directly or indirectly corruptly accept, obtain, agree to accept, or
attempt to obtain, for himself, money, valuable consideration, or office in respect of
anything done or omitted, or to be done or omitted by him in his official capacity contrary
to section 119(1)(a) of the Criminal Code.

0 Nigel Wright between February 6, 2013, and March 28, 2013, at Ottawa, Ontario did
directly or indirectly corruptly give or offer to a member of Parliament for the benefit of
that person, any money, valuable consideration, or office in respect of anything done or
omitted, or to be done or omitted by him in his official capacity contrary to section 119(1)(b)
of the Criminal Code.

0 Michael Duffy being an official of the government of Canada between February 6, 2013,
and March 28, 2013, at Ottawa, Ontario did without the-consent in writing of the head of
the branch of that government of which he is an official demand, accept, offer to accept, or
agree to accept a reward or an advantage or benefit of money from Nigel Wright a person
having dealings with the government of Canada contrary to section 121(1)( c) of the
Crimimtl Code.

0 Nigel Wright 21 person having dealings with the government of Canada, between February
6, 2013, and May 19, 2013, at Ottawa, Ontario, did, without the consent in writing of the
head of the branch of that government, pay a reward or confer an advantage or benefit on
Mike Duffy, an official of the government of Canada with respect to those dealings contrary
to Section 12l(1)(b) of the Crimimtl Code.

0 Michael Duffy and Nigel Wright between February 6, 2013, and May 19, 2013, at Ottawa,
Ontario, being officials within the Government of Canada, did commit breach of trust i11
connection with the duties of their offices contrary to section 122 of the Crimimll
Code.

PAGE 2.

AND THAT there are reasonable grounds for believing that the following documents and/or
data will afford evidence of the said offences:

See Appendix 

AND THAT there are reasonable grounds for believing that the said documents and/or data or
some part of them are in the possession or control of:

See Appendix 

INTRODUCTION

I, Greg Horton, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in the Province of
Ontario, make oath and say as follows:

1.

I am a peace officer in the RCMP for the past 21 years with experience in major crime
investigations and applications for judicial authorizations. I have personal knowledge of
the matters hereinafter set out, and I believe all of the information in this Information to
be true.

I am currently assigned to Sensitive and International Investigations within the National
PAGE 3.
housing allowances in relation to where the Senators actually live. A Senator is eligible
for certain housing and travel expenses while working in Ottawa, if their primary
residence is located more than 100 km fi'om the National Capital Region (NCR). Because
of the extensive media coverage, and the mandate of RCMP National Division, I
commenced this investigation in preparation for the release of the Deloitte Reports. In
May 2013, the Senate received and publicly released three Deloitte Reports, one
pertaining to each Senator being audited. My team then commenced a review of the three
reports, as well as laws, rules, policy and guidelines which govern the Senators. We also
monitored developments in the media. While the investigation is focusing on all 3
Senators, this application is specifically related to Senator Duffy and Mr. Wright.

5. During the period that Deloitte was conducting its audit, Senator Duffy publicly
announced that he had repaid more than $90,000' in living expenses, citing unclear
Senate rules for having made the claims. The Senate acknowledged his repayment to the
Receiver General of Canada. After examining an 18 month period of expense claims,
Deloitte produced a report finding that Senator Duffy referred to his cottage on Prince
Edward Island (PEI) as his primary residence, and filed expense claims relating to the
house he owns in Ottawa, claiming it as his NCR secondary residence. He collected a
housing allowance for that secondary residence. The Deloitte Report found that there was
a lack of clarity in the Senate regulations and guidelines when referring to primary and
secondary residences. It did not conclude any fault on Senator Duffy's part, but did
provide a breakdown on where he spent his time, the majority being in Ottawa.

6. As a result of the Deloitte Report, the Steering Committee produced its own report (The
Senate Report) on May 9, 2013, which summarizes the Deloitte Report, and the findings
of the sub-committee. The Senate Report acknowledged that Senator Duffy paid back
more than $90,000 in expenses, and that Deloitte was not able to assess the status of his
primary residence based on the Senate regulations and guidelines. It recommended that
Senator Duffy's expense claims be monitored for a period of not less than one year. The
Senate Report was not critical of Senator Duffy, and did not find any fault on his part.

7. Media reports soon emerged alleging that Senator Duffy had not paid back the $90,000
himself, and that it was in fact paid back by the Prime Minister's then Chief of Staff,
Nigel Wright. The reports claimed that there was an agreement, possibly a written
agreement, between Senator Duffy and Mr. Wright, stipulating that Senator Duffy would
publicly acknowledge making the claims in error and taking the personal decision of
paying back $90,000. In exchange for this public acknowledgement, Nigel Wright would
actually cover the cost of the $90,000, and the government would "go easy" on Senator_
Duffy in its report. The media reports were not entirely accurate, however there was some
validity to them. The circumstances of that repayment are the subject of this application.

8. After reviewing hundreds of e-mail exchanges and conducting interviews with many of
those involved, I believe the true circumstances surrounding the repayment of the

The actual amount is $90,172.24. For ease of reference, I will refer to this amount as $90,000 throughout this
In formation.

FOR THE OTHER 73 PAGES: see the original. https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/837418-rcmp-mike-duffy-nigel-wright-nov.html

SOME PDF. BITS

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