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Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

WHAT READERS THINK

March 14: And the ‘fair’ bit in the Fair Elections Act? – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

And the ‘fair’ bit?

I find myself wondering how often, in its lengthy history, The Globe has published a five-part lead editorial criticizing a proposed piece of legislation (Slow It Down, Mr. Poilievre – March 10-14). Having described the best way to run an election, the third editorial in the series on the Fair Elections Act asks why the government is moving in the other direction. This is, as they say, the $60,000 question. It deserves an answer from the government.

The Harper government seems to have calculated that any initial flurry of editorial outrage would pass and Canadians would soon return to their daily routines.

Stephen Harper clearly is counting on voters either being too busy to notice or having short memories. Sadly, history demonstrates that this is a bet he might well win. Too many Canadians have shown themselves to be politically disengaged and socially passive. But there is some reason for hope. Using social media, younger people are organizing against this egregious legislation.

After the federal election of 2011, when Canadians added the word “robocall” to their vocabularies, some of us joked that the next federal election would see observers from Mexico being brought in to help ensure that the election was run in a properly democratic manner. Bill C-23 makes what had been a joke seem eerily real.

Steve Soloman, Toronto

.........

Politics is very much akin to the world of sport. There are rules to be obeyed by all teams: Rule changes are made only with the agreement of everyone.

In sport, if any one team usurps the right to dictate the rules, the fans know the “fix” is in. Is the Canadian electorate less deserving of respect when we cast our ballots than when we watch Hockey Night in Canada?

John Steeves, Sussex, N.B.

.........

Re Slow It Down, Mr. Poilievre (Part 2, March 11): Exempting fundraising costs isn’t a foreign concept. Both the Liberals and NDP exempted fundraising expenses from spending limits in their leadership races. Not only is there a precedent, currently all election period spending by registered parties is eligible for a 50-per-cent rebate from taxpayers.

Without the exemption from election spending, taxpayers are stuck paying for half the cost of fundraising calls and letters. This is inappropriate.

The Fair Elections Act protects Canadians by requiring a purpose test to qualify for the exemption at section 376(3). To have their costs excluded from the mandatory reporting as an election expense, fundraising requests would have to be for the sole purpose of soliciting monetary contributions from past supporters.

Finally, the Fair Elections Act imposes tough new compliance audits of parties’ expenses that aren’t currently required, ensuring parties only solicit funds from past donors and are therefore in compliance with the law.

Pierre Poilievre, Minister of State for Democratic Reform

.........

Cheers to the NDP for rallying opposition to the so-called Fair Elections Act.

Pierre Poilievre proposes that the practice of vouching be discontinued on the grounds that it promotes fraudulent voting.

As someone who has worked for Elections Canada on polling day, I can testify that some of the people who did not have ID with them would simply not have voted had vouching not been possible. To disenfranchise a voter because they forgot their IDs is unreasonably harsh. After all, the person who is vouching must show proper ID before vouching can occur. We all make mistakes and being a little flexible on this issue is good public policy.

Geoff Rytell, Toronto

.........

Gratitude to troops

They may have lowered our Maple Leaf in Kabul, but we hold it high for a job well done by our troops (Homeward Bound – March 13). The families of the 158 soldiers who never came home have Canadians’ utmost respect for their fallen family members and their service to this country.

Our troops made a difference in Afghanistan. It’s now up to us to make sure that our veterans who were wounded while away from home know that we support them in their recovery.

Val Stephanson, Calgary

.........

Sovereignty’s costs

Re PQ Promises On Sovereignty Echo 1994 Campaign (March 13): The big sovereignty question for Pierre Karl Péladeau is, “Given Quebec’s poor credit rating and its proximity to taxation limits, how do you propose to refinance Quebec’s share of the national debt?”

The talk seems generally to have been about whether the net flow of funds is into or out of Quebec. The equalization funding of a have-not province indicates an inflow, while the true believers, in an act of faith, claim an outflow. The latest suggestion is representation in the governance of the Bank of Canada. These are operating issues.

The much larger issue is extrication from the Confederation. Is Mr. Péladeau’s business acumen up to the task.

Graham R. Ross, Victoria

.........

$1.2-quadrillion

Re Bankers Behaving Badly Face 6-Year Bonus Clawback By Bank Of England (March 13): Stock markets once held value. Today, they represent little more than a betting house. Our love for – or rather, addiction to – money has prevented us from taking concrete action against this gambling business. The Bank of England’s cutback on bonuses is a good start to help decrease this excessive risk-taking. But it’s not enough.

Bankers gamble to turn a profit, regardless of the risk. The derivatives market provides little real value to society, and yet it is valued at $1.2-quadrillion – more than 20 times the size of our global economy, according to derivatives expert Paul Wilmott.

Warren Buffett called derivatives “financial weapons of mass destruction.” Until the banks start realizing this, it will be a long time before reason and stability return to our markets.

Sophia Sunderji, Montreal

.........

To clarify …

Re University Education, Like Love, Cannot Simply Be Moved Online (online, March 10): Sky Gilbert writes that I recently called for creation of more online university courses. I wish to clarify: I recognize that today’s learners need access to online information resources, but that does not necessarily mean that we need more online courses.

To remain relevant in a fast-changing world, universities need to improve face-to-face learning opportunities for students and use the advantages afforded by electronic resources to provide critical, up-to-date information.

The most important thing a university can do is to teach people how to learn – how to sift and weigh the vast quantity of information available. That’s best done face-to-face with real teachers and real learners, not through more online courses, for all their “tech” cachet.

Alastair Summerlee, president and vice-chancellor, University of Guelph

.........

Chow vs. Ford

Re Chow Makes Candidacy Official (March 13): Olivia Chow versus Rob Ford. Ah, finally a contest. May the best woman win.

Sebastian Grunstra, Ottawa

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