The Trudeau government is taking steps to deliver on some of the Liberals’ election campaign promises to reform Canada’s election laws.
With a national consultation on electoral reform underway, the federal government put forward a number of voting changes this week, some of which reverse moves made by the previous Conservative government.
The legislation, introduced by Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, restores voting rights for Canadian expatriates living abroad for more than five years, and eliminates the requirement to produce identification before casting a ballot.
The government will also be bringing back the ability for voters to cough for other citizens lacking voter cards, as well as restoring the chief electoral officer’s mandate on voter education.
Late Tuesday, Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef served the required 48-hours notice that she will introduce a bill to change the Canada Elections Act and make “consequential amendments” to other legislation.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper’s government passed the Fair Elections Act, which critics said was a voter suppression tool for people unlikely to vote Conservative. The government said it was an important tool in maintaining the legitimacy of the democratic process.
More than one million Canadians will be added to the voter registry based on the expat voting rights restoration alone, when the reforms are enacted.
Suspicion remains that Justin Trudeau may back pedal on his commitment to replace Canada’s first-past-the-post voting system.
Monsef plans to introduce separate legislation in the spring to potentially wipe out the first-past-the-post voting system, but also stressed that the government won’t proceed without broad consensus.