Bills to ensure safe elections during pandemic stalls as obstacles to electoral growth

OTTAWA – Conducted for the purpose of ensuring a federal election can be conducted safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though Justin Trudeau’s average termination dates for minority governments in Canada are fast approaching.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc blamed the Conservatives for blocking Bill C-19.

And he suggests that maybe because the Conservatives really want to discourage voters from casting ballots, elections should be held this summer or fall.

But Conservative House Leader Gerard Deltell says liberals have only themselves to blame for the fact that the C-19’s Commons held only three hours of initial debate about 19 months ago.

Either way, the bill is less likely to pass through all legislative hoops and pass before Parliament is broken for the summer.

Minority governments in Canada only last an average of one and a half years; Prime Minister Trudeau’s government will pass the 18-month mark in one to two weeks.

Trudeau could pull the plug on his government at any time. Or the government can be defeated if all three opposition parties vote against it in a matter of faith, then submerged the country in one election.

Not all parties want to make the election during the epidemic, yet one or the other is repeatedly forced to garner a trust vote, with a dynamic LeBlanc stating that “playing chicken and letting the other person hope will come out sweating” . “

As the government arrives on its two-year anniversary in November, “the odds are going to increase … that someone on the wire made the trips,” he said in an interview.

Because of that unpredictability, Chief Electoral Officer Stefan Perrault last urged lawmakers to pass elections faster to empower legislation to temporarily adopt new measures to ensure the safety of voters and poll workers And to provide easy access to voting in the event of an election during an epidemic. .

In response, the government launched the C-19 in December. Among other things, it allows for a three-day voting period instead of one day, and makes it easier for voters to receive and cast mail-in ballots. This election will allow Canada more flexibility to conduct mobile polls in long-term care facilities.

“We’re running out of time quickly if there’s an election this fall … for these measures in place,” LeBlanc said.

The Conservatives used a procedural strategy to block the start of the second reading debate on the C-19 in February. Eventually there was a three-hour debate on two different days in March.

It was debated again last week, but was struck by the government’s agenda to allow it to swiftly monitor an urgent bill to end a dockworkers’ strike at the Port of Montreal. This week’s agenda has been taken up with the budget implementation bill.

LeBlanc said the Conservatives have refused to give any indication to the government as to how many MPs wish to speak on the C-19. He said, whenever the bill comes up for debate, he signals his intention to speak on the clock, stops it from casting a vote and goes to a commons committee for deeper scrutiny and possible amendments, for which LeBlanc said “completely open.”

“It is the Conservatives who are complicating it. They are giving us the allusion that they will put an end to the debate.”

With a calendar with priority bills on epidemic relief and budget measures, LeBlanc said the government could not afford to listen to the Conservatives on “what should not happen to take days and days and days of commons … to build something.” A consensus issue for common sense, time-limited changes that keep election workers and volunteers safe. “

“Ironically, the people who are implementing those common-sense changes … are the people who don’t believe in the government all the time,” he said.

But Deltell argued that the lack of progress in the bill is the government’s fault that does not put it on the agenda of the House.

“Liberals have only themselves to blame for the slow progress of their epidemic election bill,” the Canadian press said in a statement.

Even if the bill had been approved in principle, Deltell said it would be referred to the Committee on Procedure and the House Affairs, “where more than 39 hours to testify to Liberal members for more than 39 hours to testify” Happening, “Trudeau’s decision last summer. Promoting Parliament for six weeks.

He said, “This film has to end before considering the bill.”

New Democrat MP Daniel Blaikie – who wrote in June last month to fellow lawmakers on the urgent need to find out how they could safely conduct an epidemic election – said he was “a little shocked and disheartened” that Conservat The bill also seems intended to block earlier. It gets to the committee.

In an interview, he said, “We are talking at the moment that it is wise to run elections under the current rules. The answer is very clearly and if there are any problems with the bill, you resolve them.”

At the same time, Blocky said that the government needed to implement the bill more and more often before the House and at least try to find a way to move it forward.

“They need to deal with a challenging and barrier-free official opposition about every piece of legislation … I don’t see why anyone is different. This government is about choosing its priorities.”

Blaikie said Trudeau removed the request for the bill, promising that he would not hold an election as long as the epidemic persists.

But it is a promise LeBlanc said will not be forthcoming.

“No government can remove its ability to ensure that Parliament can continue to function, especially during an epidemic”.

Regardless of whether the government or opposition parties trigger it, Blaikie said that “there will eventually be an election” and that it will be “a bloody shame” if it threatens public health or does not result in “a whole bunch of people” Is voting, thereby doubting the validity of the result.

Without C-19 measures, LeBlanc agreed that some voters would not feel safe or cast ballots during the epidemic. And he suggested that there may have been a conservative motivation to block the bill, in keeping with his previous efforts to “suppress the vote” – despite warnings by electoral experts about election laws passed by the previous Tory government The controversial changes refer to hundreds of voters disbanding.

“I wonder if the Conservatives don’t like the election without these safeguards, deliberately hoping that it will slow down voting,” LeBlanc said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 5, 2021.


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