March 25, 2014 - 7:25 PM
OTTAWA - Five things you should know about Bill C-23, dubbed the Fair Elections Act:
— The 242-page Fair Elections Act is the biggest overhaul of election rules since 2004, when corporate and union donations to political parties were banned and individual donation limits were capped.
— The chief electoral officer has been calling for electoral reforms during his annual committee testimony for years; the ongoing investigation into fraudulent phone calls during the 2011 federal election spurred a renewed parliamentary push for changes before the next general election, scheduled for 2015.
— On March 12, 2012, Parliament unanimously passed a motion calling on the government to give Elections Canada stronger investigative powers, including the ability to force political parties to provide supporting documents for their expenses.
— Bill C-23 would effectively split Elections Canada in two, separating the chief electoral officer who administers the rules from the commissioner who investigates and enforces those rules. It raises penalties and creates new offences but does not give the commissioner any new investigative tools.
— The bill increases the amount political parties will be able to spend during election campaigns and the amount individuals may donate, while removing the power of registered voters to vouch for the residency of a citizen who lacks ID proving his or her local address.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014