I have a deep and healthy respect for our democracy.
I respect those who fought and continue to fight for our right to vote in a free and democratic society. I respect the hard work of Emily Murphy, Nellie McClung, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby — the Famous 5, from right here in Alberta who fought for the right for women to vote, a right that was granted just 100 years ago.
This respect for our democracy is why the Liberal’s recent legislation, Bill C-76 is frustrating to me not only as a politician, but as a Canadian who has freely voted in every election since I was legally able to at 18 years of age.
Bill C-76, among other things, proposes to reintroduce the Voter I.D. Card as an acceptable form of identification. We know that in the 2015 election, some 400,000 voter cards were subject to error. We know that we need I.D. for things such as driving a car, owning a gun or getting a mortgage. Why should anything less than official government-issued I.D. be required when exercising your democratic right to vote?
This legislation also removes two limitations on voting by non-resident electors: the requirement that they have been residing outside Canada for less than five consecutive years and the requirement that they intend to return to Canada to resume residence in the future. Basically, this means that people who have chosen to not live in this country, for any amount of time and have no plans to return to this country will have a say in what happens inside our borders. This hardly seems fair to the millions of eligible voters who live, work, pay taxes and actually call Canada home.
Bill C-76 also fails to deal with the growing concern of foreign influence in our elections. Third parties are not held to the same standards as political parties. They can obtain their funds from people who are not Canadian citizens and there is no limit on the amount that a person can donate. While Bill C-76 purports to limit the amount of third-party advertising dollars spent, it does not place a limit on how much money can be spent on “other election activities.” This means that people in other countries can have an impact on the outcome of our elections.
There are numerous allegations that millions of dollars in foreign funding was funnelled into third party advocacy group during the 2015 election. According to the reports, the Tides Foundation donated $1.5 million to Canadian third parties in the election year alone. If the Trudeau Government is truly committed to preventing foreign interference, they should have dealt with this issue months ago.
Your vote matters. When individuals vote in the wrong riding, even by mistake, vote twice, or vote when they don’t even truly call Canada home, it undermines our democratic institutions. We would be naïve to assume that people would not take advantage of our electoral system and reduce the value of someone else’s vote.
Canadians already stopped Justin Trudeau from making fundamental changes to Canada’s election laws to benefit the Liberal Party of Canada. He has failed to be honest with Canadians and cannot be trusted to amend voter identification rules in a way that does not benefit the Liberal Party.
I encourage you to contact a Liberal MP and tell them to vote against the proposed electoral changes in bill C-76.
Please contact my Constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on any federally related matters, postage free, at: 201-5025 Parkwood Road, Blackfalds, AB T0M 0J0; tel: 587-621-0020; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my web site: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/blainecalkinsmp