Pirate Party of Canada Evidence Based Policy Making

Full Text and Video From Senate Hearing on Bill C-23

Here is the full text from the opening statement given by Ric Lim for Pirate Party of Canada. Link to video can be found at the bottom.

This was delivered on April 10, 2022 before the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. The proceeding as described by the Committee chair Bob Runciman:

“Bill C23, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and other acts and to make consequential amendments to certain acts. This bill proposes amendments to numerous aspects of Canada’s electoral law along with related amendments to the Telecommunications Act, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Director of Public Prosecutions Act among other acts.”

Our Opening Statement

Good afternoon. My name is Ric Lim, I am here from the Pirate Party of Canada. We are a federal political party focused on reform to information law and democracy in the 21st century. One of our founding principle is Open Government. This could easily be realized using practical technological solutions to implement a real-time, automatic online disclosures of spendings and other datas. These are essential to a frugal and honest government. It will help make Guaranteed Income or Mincome feasible. We believe in making Canada the best place in the world to live in. We offer an important alternative voice. Having more real choices is good for democracy. It is hard to compete against established and well funded parties. We have accepted the challenge because Canadians are not being properly served and Bill C-23 is evidence of this.

Bill C-23 is about to make competition harder. It creates loopholes allowing established parties to spend millions more. In a virtually limitless spending environment, rich parties and well-funded special interest groups have undue influence. As demonstrated south of the border and pointed out by the Boston Globe (May 12 2013 article by Tracy Jan), members of congress spent twice as much time on fundraising than on committee hearings, floor votes, or meetings with constituents. By introducing more money into the system we risk adding a level of distraction our lawmakers do not need. Furthermore, allegations against Dean Del Maestro, whether true or not, demonstrate one way of how the ban on corporate donations can easily be circumvented. C-23 does not address this problem but instead create new ones.

Another major point that is less often discussed is the central poll supervisor could become a partisan appointee. Sure, there are deputies and poll watchers that are partisans, to provide checks and balances. But making the central poll supervisor a biased partisan from a winning party is like picking a judge from the prosecution team.

The difference between established democracy like ours, and countries where people continue to die fighting for democracy, is we trust our elections. That trust is harmed with a biased partisan as the central poll supervisor. The central poll supervisor decides whether or not a ballot is valid. A partisan central poll supervisor could lead to the systematic contesting of ballots like the ones we saw in Florida, meant to disenfranchise voters. It is heart breaking to see the integrity of our democracy dismantled like this.

Laws must be carefully considered and evaluated. It takes time for every possible point to be raised and to seek expert testimony. Otherwise the result is always, always a bad law. The Conservative Party of Canada once believed in the same thing. Many election experts have made it clear they were not consulted on C-23. The bill was rushed through the Commons with little time for debate. It has been a long time since the Senate’s duty to exercise ‘sober second thought’ was this great. This is a bad law and the Senate has a duty to send it back.

Much has already been said about vouching. We just want to say, there is no proven case of voter fraud. However, the last election saw many complaints of voter suppression. Why is the Elections Act silent about voter suppression and instead focusing on the yet to be proven voter fraud? If there is voter fraud, prosecute them. But we all know there were undeniable cases of voter suppression in the last General Election. Why are we introducing measures that will further disenfranchise more voters; especially young people and aboriginals.

It is wrong to prevent Elections Canada from encouraging people to vote. We cannot have an election body that is unable to ensure proper conduct of an election. With barely 60% of Canadians voting we need ‘all hands on deck’ for increasing turnout.

Elections Canada needs more power to investigate the voter suppression. Instead, C-23 takes power away from Elections Canada.

It was said that the experts, including 160 professors that study political law, do not understand the running of the government. Shouldn’t we be spending time discussing the points raised by experts? Government exists to serve the people. It is our servant, not our master. It should not be dismissive of either experts or ordinary citizens. Ordinary people often know more about a problem than the people at the top.

We appeal to all honourable Parliamentarians to set aside partisanship and stop this bill. There is no urgency for this reform. It is being rushed through even though it clearly has problems. It needs thoughtful debate and much more careful scrutiny. Many experts and ordinary Canadians have come forward to say this elections act is unfair and damaging. Canadians deserve better. We are better off without it.


Video links:

Event Page:


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