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NDP start push to have hearings on Tory Elections Act changes

MPs are set to debate a New Democrat motion Monday that calls for cross country hearings by a commons committee on the Harper government’s proposed overhaul of the Elections Act.

The governing Conservatives have scoffed at the idea of public hearings across the country, saying they would be nothing more than a circus.

The Tories have used their majority to limit debate and push the bill through the House.

New Democrat MP David Christopherson said last week that such significant changes to electoral laws have never been made before without input from the opposition parties and the chief electoral officer.

The legislation effectively divides Elections Canada, the watchdog that oversees election fairness, by putting its investigative powers in a separate office.

It also restricts the chief electoral officer from communicating with Canadians and effectively increases the amount parties will be able to spend during campaigns.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand has questioned the proposed changes, fearing they will undermine Elections Canada’s efforts to encourage all Canadians to cast a ballot.

Christopherson says he fully realizes the Conservatives will squash efforts to start public hearings, but hopes today’s debate will draw public attention to the controversial legislation.