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Senate to hear from top officials during special hearing on electoral reform legislation

Committee of the Whole set for November 6.

The Senate will open its doors to cameras for a special hearing with the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections on proposed legislation to update federal election laws and make it easier for Canadians to vote.

Bill C-76 has four main goals: to make elections more accessible, more secure and more transparent, as well as to modernize the administration of elections.

It will also reintroduce the voter information card as a valid piece of identification that can be used at the polls. In a 2016 Statistics Canada survey, more than 170,000 Canadians said that a lack of ID was why they did not vote in the 2015 election.

In order to allow all Senators an opportunity to study this important legislation, the Senate will hold a committee of the whole in the Red Chamber from 4:10 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. on November 6 to question Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault and Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté about the bill.

“Committee of the Whole will give all Senators the opportunity to ask pertinent questions on a bill of critical importance,” said Senator Peter Harder, the Government Representative in the Senate.

“Canadians will also be able to see sober second thought in action.”

The rare opportunity for a televised session follows the example set on debates over Bill C-14, which allowed medical assistance in dying, and Bill C-45, which legalized cannabis.

Senate proceedings are currently available in audio, but the Government Conference Centre, which will become the Senate’s temporary home in the new year during the renovation of Centre Block, will be equipped with cameras, facilities and resources to enable the broadcasting or webcasting of proceedings.

More televised hearings will help to open up the Senate to the general public and is part of a broader modernization campaign, which has also seen the Senate become less partisan through a new selection process that only appoints independent Senators.

Bill C-76 implements about 85 per cent of the recommendations made by the Chief Electoral Officer and the Commissioner of Canada Elections following the 2015 federal election.

The legislation aims to curb threats posed by foreign interference, online disruption and disinformation.

It also proposes to change spending limits for third parties and political parties during an election period, as well as establish spending limits for third parties and political parties during the pre-election period.

Senate to hear from top officials during special hearing on electoral reform legislation

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