Senate pre-study produces inadequate amendments to Fair Elections Act: Students

Concerns surrounding student and youth participation will not be addressed without amendment that preserves vouching provision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 15, 2014, OTTAWA— Students are disappointed that today’s proposal to amend the Fair Elections Act does nothing to address concerns related to youth participation. The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made public its report and recommendations concerning the pre-study of Bill C-23, The Fair Elections Act, today. “We’re incredibly disappointed.” said Jonathan Champagne, Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA).

“Not one of the proposed amendments resolves the problems that students have with The Fair Elections Act.” The amendments proposed in the report make no mention of continuing to allow vouching as a means to prove the eligibility of a voter to cast a ballot in their home riding. The move to disallow vouching—a practice that federal lawyers have previously argued is a failsafe that protects the democratic rights of citizens—is the most prominent among many concerning clauses contained in the Fair Elections Act. “The electoral engagement of Canada’s youth should be concerning to everyone,” added Travis Gordon, CASA board member.

“We believe the fairest elections are those where the most people have the opportunity to participate and this bill will make that goal more difficult.” The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations has taken part in numerous consultations with Elections Canada and other stakeholders to address the issue of low youth voter turnout. “Students have been calling for expanded use of things like the Voter Information Card to prove their residence,” added Gordon. “Our efforts have always been geared toward encouraging participation and we’re calling on the government to again make that a priority.”

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