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Fair Elections Act fallout

Re: Election law abuses democracy (Editorial, April 12). When changes to the Elections Act were proposed in 1996, a young MP had this to say about the process: "I intend to oppose this bill that imposes changes to the federal elections act without the consent of the opposition parties.

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"In my view, the procedure of using time allocation for electoral law, doing it quickly and without the consent of the other political parties, is the kind of dangerous application of electoral practices that we are more likely to find in Third World countries.

"Every indication that we have had during the debate, in the committee hearings and in the House, has been that with further discussion we would reach an all-party consensus on virtually all of the items in the legislation" (Hansard, Nov. 26, 1996).

That MP was Stephen Harper.

These comments came after 44 days of parliamentary debate and all-party committee meetings, which eventually brought about some changes to the proposals.

The present act has seen five days of debate before closure and a rarely used pre-study by the Senate to fast-track the bill before the summer recess.

It seems Harper has set aside his democratic principles in the hopes of gaining an unfair advantage in the next election.






In Chief electoral officer under fire (April 14) Minister of State (Democratic Reform) Pierre Poilievre says "the referee shouldn't be wearing a team jersey."

The party attempting to "fix" democracy through the Fair Elections Act is the one wearing a team jersey -- and they're trying to shoot/badmouth the messengers.

All of this comes from the party that brought voters robocalls in the last federal election.

Some Conservative senators have finally spoken up about changes needed to Bill C-23. How about making democratic reform a truly democratic process?






There must be a typo in Don Hermiston's letter (Election act not all bad, Letters, April 16).

Hermiston notes the "Liberal" partisanship in the federal government civil service. Should it not read "liberal" -- meaning "free to act" in the public interest?

After all, this what the Fair Elections Act will remove from our chief electoral officer and Elections Canada.

Doreen Barrie is right (Chief electoral officer under fire, April 14) -- there are so many flaws in Bill C-23, reading all of it is scary.

The federal Conservatives are proving they cannot be trusted to enact a good law that will liberate voters.

Criticizing is not enough; Canadians must demand our electoral system be put into our Constitution and not subject to partisan tinkering by the government of the day.





'Life sentence' a misnomer

Why does a convicted second-degree murderer only have to serve 10 years in prison before having a chance at parole ('Gentle' man murdered, killer gets life term, April 16)?

Isn't a life sentence a life sentence? He took a life and should have to give up his own as compensation.

I can't imagine how the victim's family must feel knowing the remorseless killer will be walking the streets again in 10 years while they have lost their family member forever.

It's time for our justice system to toughen up.





Melnick attention 'fulsome'

I note that, yet again, there is a call for a "fulsome" investigation into the Christine Melnick affair (Tories seek probe after email withheld, April 16).

This time it's PC house leader Kelvin Goertzen calling for such an inquiry.

Is he aware that the word "fulsome" is defined as "cloying, excessive, disgusting by excess" by the Oxford Concise Dictionary?

Perhaps just a "full" investigation would suffice. Or maybe it's just time to focus on much bigger issues, such as crumbling infrastructure and health-care concerns.

The long-running attention on the Melnick matter is becoming, well, fulsome.





CFS system needs fixing

Re: Grieving family demands answers (April 17). Manitoba's Child and Family Services stood by while Phoenix Sinclair was being abused and eventually killed by the very people who were supposed to love and care for her.

Now CFS takes a child, Matias De Antonio, away from his mother and he dies while in their care.

Isn't there anyone in CFS able to run things in a way that will actually protect children?

Instead of hiding behind closed doors and passing the buck, someone should come out and admit the system needs fixing, then hire someone intelligent enough to fix it.





City, not 311 staff, to blame

Letter writer Al Yakimchuk insists 311 is an ineffective service, going so far as to call it a "sham" (311 ineffective, Letters, April 14).

I strongly disagree. 311 was developed to ensure expedient referrals of information, and to act as a liaison between the public and relevant city services. Rather than bogging down departmental offices, 311 staff have been trained to deal with a wide range of questions, and for the most part are able to help the public immediately.

The staff at 311 are Winnipeggers and are not answering calls from outsourced call centres in other countries. They are the best-equipped to deal with calls and, as Winnipeggers, are proud of their work and service to the community.

311 staff took the brunt of the community's anger toward the city for our municipal leaders' failure to respond to snow-clearing, garbage collection and frozen water pipes.

These call-centre staff have taken ownership in doing their best to help citizens' concerns.



President, CUPE Local 500

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 19, 2014 A16

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