I find nothing strange about a historian encouraging political activity and social justice. Historians can be instrumental in developing policy, influencing important decisions, and providing expert testimony. However, the most important way Canadians can contribute to our nation’s governmental process is to vote. Our right and ability to choose – or not choose – a representative in government is fundamental to the continued health and functioning of democracy in Canada.
This is why it’s shocking that 80% of Canadians are unaware of changes being made to our elections.
What’s happening: the federal government is pushing forward a proposed Fair Elections Act, which will introduce broad changes to the voting process in the country. Changes include higher penalties for impersonating election officials (to deter robocalls), alterations to the amounts of money allowed to be donated to campaigns, and the prohibition of vouching and Voter Identification Cards.
The Fair Elections Act is an enormous cause of controversy among political circles. While the Conservatives argue that it will make voters safer, opposition leaders condemn the Act as a tool of voter suppression, claiming it will benefit only the Conservatives and their supporters. Despite the controversy, the Act seems to be relatively unheard of among the everyday citizens that the proposed legislation will affect the most.
As the Act progresses on its way to becoming law, it is essential that we all take the opportunity to do the research. Get informed. What conclusion you come to is yours to decide, but I believe this is too important of a debate for Canadians not to have an opinion.
The following links offer an introduction to the claims and concerns of both supporters and opponents of the Fair Elections Act:
- Federal Government Press Release, “Harper Government introduces Fair Elections Act”
- “Most Canadians don’t understand importance of Fair Elections Act: poll”
- Huffington Post, “Fair Elections Act Will Prevent Young and Low-Income Canadians From Voting, NDP Charge”
- Globe and Mail, “The Fair Elections Act Doesn’t Address the Real Problems With Voting”
- National Post, “Conservatives’ Fair Elections Act offers common sense changes with a dose of mistrust”