Mail-in ballots done on a large scale could open the door to manipulation and election fraud, says independent MP Derek Sloan, who recently voted against a federal government bill that includes this option as one way of helping to make voting safer during the pandemic.
“We typically avail [mail-in] ballots for people that are out of the country or overseas, the military, and so on, and that’s fine. But when it’s done in a large-scale manner in Canada, I think it does open to possibilities for fraud and manipulation,” Sloan told The Epoch Times.
Sloan was the lone dissenting vote on the second reading of Bill C-19, which passed with all-party approval in principle on May 11.
The bill, which aims to provide temporary rules for Elections Canada to conduct an election safely should one take place during the COVID-19 pandemic, will now go to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (PROC) for scrutiny and possible amendments.
Sloan said his main concern with Bill C-19 is the mail-in ballot option that allows people to vote by mail on a widespread basis. Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault said in his testimony before PROC on Oct. 22, 2020, that surveys indicated that about 4 million to 5 million voters would vote by mail.
“I have concerns about security and potential cheating if the wrong person gets it—I mean, almost anybody can just mail a ballot they’ve received,” Sloan said, adding that voter list and voter identity verification are critical.
“I don’t know what Elections Canada will be doing to ensure [election integrity]—if all they’re going to do is mail ballots to whatever address is on the voter roll, that’s a problem.”
Sloan cited a personal experience in which he received a voter information card at his home that was addressed to someone who used to live there.
If the federal government does adopt mail-in voting in the next election, he said, “there needs to be some kind of strict mechanism to ensure that people have to provide information on the mail-in ballot itself that would be very hard to forge if you’re not that person.”
In the House of Commons on May 10, Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz said Bill C-19 would allow Canadians to register online to be able to vote by mail using a driver’s licence.
“It makes voting more accessible by allowing voters to register to vote by mail using an ID number, like a driver’s licence number, rather than a full copy of their identification,” she said.
“If Canadians did go to the polls in the pandemic, we anticipate that many more would want to vote by mail.”
Kent: Interim Report ‘Pre-Empted’ By C-19
Bill C-19 was introduced on Dec. 10, 2020, and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told the House on May 10 that the government had tabled the legislation because “we thought it was important for Parliament to have a chance to consider it over the Christmas break.”
But PROC had already been working on the issue since Oct. 22, 2020, following a report submitted by Perrault earlier that month appealing to parliamentarians to study and adopt a new temporary law so that Elections Canada could administer an election safely in the event one happens during the pandemic.
Conservative MP and PROC member Peter Kent said the committee was within days of presenting its interim report, but it was “pre-empted by Bill C-19, ignoring the suggestions of the exhaustive study … that would have improved Bill C-19 before it was tabled.”
“The Liberals clearly intended then to rush the legislation through Parliament, as they have done with so many other flawed pieces of legislation from the beginning of the pandemic,” he said on May 10.
The passing of Bill C-19 came a day after the NDP supported the minority Liberal government in cutting short debate on the bill, leading to accusations by Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs that the two parties colluded.
“The Liberals decided to introduce a bill, utterly disregarding democratic institutions such as the [PROC] committee. Now they are forcing closure with help from the NDP, their usual accomplice for this kind of tactic,” said Bloc House Leader Alain Therrien, also vice-chair of PROC.
Speaking for the Liberals, LeBlanc said the government wants to ensure Canada is ready for an election during the pandemic, with temporary measures in place, should an election be called.
“The proposed amendments to the Canada Elections Act were introduced in Parliament a few months ago,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press