(This article originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
The opposition Conservatives are ringing the alarm bell following an exclusive Sun report revealing that Elections Canada sent a voter registration card to an asylum seeker who has only been in Canada for 18 months.
Concern over possible voter fraud continues in light of the Trudeau government’s plans to weaken voter integrity measures that could make it easier for non-citizens to vote in the 2019 federal election.
“Liberal election Bill C-76 will change the law so that voter registration cards are legal forms of voter ID once again,” said Conservative Sen. Linda Frum on Twitter.
A potential voter would, under the proposed legislation, now be allowed to show the voter ID card as a piece of identification at the polls. Elections Canada has told the Sun that it would be up to the Chief Electoral Officer whether the voter ID card would be allowed as the sole piece of identification. The current CEO, according to Elections Canada, has indicated that would not be the case. But, under Bill C-76, such a change would not be against the law.
The Liberals’ Bill C-76 is an omnibus bill that, among other measures, seeks to reverse the previous government’s Fair Elections Act and undo the Conservative safeguards implemented to ensure greater integrity in our elections system.
Being able to vote with a simple Elections Canada card could allow countless non-citizens – including asylum seekers, illegal border crossers and those whose refugee applications have been rejected – to vote in the next election.
“This is incredibly concerning. As shadow minister for democratic institutions, I will work on Bill C-76 and beyond for the legitimacy of our electorate,” said Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie.
The Trudeau Liberals, meanwhile, insist that everything is under control. “Ensuring the integrity of our federal elections is a priority for our government,” said Nicky Cayer, a spokesman for Liberal Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould.
“That’s why we have introduced legislation that provides the commissioner of Canada Elections with new powers to help better enforce our election rules, including against those who vote when they are not entitled to,” she continued.
Elections Canada maintains that Canada has one of the strictest voter ID regimes in the world.
“Identification procedures at the local Elections Canada offices and polling places require that voters prove their identity and address, both when they register and when they vote,” said Natasha Gauthier, Elections Canada senior adviser and spokesman.
This specific measure touted by Elections Canada, however, would be undone if the Liberals were to pass Bill C-76.
And while Elections Canada claims their procedures are thorough, there are no measures in place to stop non-citizens who end up on voter registration lists from voting.
Voters are not required to show proof of citizenship, nor are they asked if they are a legal citizen entitled to vote.
If a person who is not on the registration list tries to register to vote on election day, “they must sign a declaration that they are a Canadian citizen,” Gauthier explains. Proof of citizenship, though, such as a passport or a citizenship certificate, is not required.
If the Liberals were to pass Bill C-76, potential voters could no longer be required to show any ID to vote whatsoever. They would only be required to show an Elections Canada voter identification card as a form of ID.
As reported by the Sun, voter registration cards are being sent to asylum seekers with no permanent status in Canada. Elections Canada assures the Sun that these cards cannot be used to vote and are simply cards that encourage recipients to register to vote.
During the registration process, a recipient is asked “Are you a Canadian citizen.” Answering falsely is federal offense under the Canada Elections Act.
According to Mexican asylum seekers Jacqueline and her husband, who spoke exclusively to the Sun, the phenomenon of non-citizens being invited to register to vote is widespread.
“They’re doing this with a lot of immigrants because I have a few friends that are on a work permit and they also received a vote registration card,” they said.
Correction: an earlier version of this story confused the voter registration card, which invites people to register to vote, with a voter ID card, which is sent to all registered voters prior to the election. We apologize for this error.