The Canadian government is planning to propose several changes to legislation in order to make voting rules stricter for Canadian expatriates who cast their votes from overseas.
According to the Canadian minister for democratic reform, Pierre Poilievre, there will be seven amendments proposed that would “clarify parts of a bill meant to tighten rules for Canadians voting from abroad”.
The proposed changes to the legislation will aim to make it mandatory for voters residing outside Canada to provide proof of citizenship and adequate identification, while making it compulsory for them to vote only in the riding where they lived previously. The changes will also make it easier for expatriates to be able to get someone to vouch for their previous residence.
Under the existing rules, an expatriate is required to find a person from the same polling division, which is a small area within a riding. But with the changes, they can get their residence verified from any person who lives in the same constituency.
“We believe that people should provide identification when they vote,” said Poilievre, addressing the procedure and House affairs committee. He also stressed that the proposed amendments reflected the general beliefs of the Harper government.
However, the opposition says that the bill is an attempt to suppress the vote, following in the lines of the ruling party’s controversial Fair Elections Act. “This is just the ‘unfair elections act,’ part 2,” says David Christopherson of the New Democratic Party.
The new bill will also seek to ensure that an estimated 40,000 people, who are non-citizens but are on the national voters’ registry, are not permitted to cast their votes. It will provide authority to the minister of citizenship and immigration to provide information on names, birth dates, gender and addresses of non-citizens to the chief electoral officer, to make it easier for Elections Canada to remove those non-citizens from the voters’ list.