APTN National News
OTTAWA–The Assembly of First Nations is expected to raise several concerns about the Harper government’s proposed changes to how people vote in federal elections including its plans to eliminate vouching.
Peter Dinsdale, AFN CEO, is scheduled to appear Thursday morning before a Parliamentary committee studying the proposed changes contained in Bill C-23, also known as the Fair Election Act.
Dinsdale is expected to raise concerns about the elimination of vouching which allowed people to vote if they didn’t have proper identification. He is also expected to question planned changes to disallow the use of voter information cards as proof of residence because many First Nation communities rely on post office boxes or postal drop offs.
Pierre Poilievre, the minister of state for democratic reform, refuse to answer questions about the AFN’s concerns when approached by an APTN National News reporter.
The Harper government has been on the defensive over the proposed legislation. Critics charge that the elimination of vouching, which allows a voter with one of the 39 accepted IDs to vouch for a voter without any, would impact people who would never vote Conservative. It’s estimated about 100,000 people would be impacted by the elimination of vouching.
Indian status cards are among the acceptable forms of ID.
First Nations people usually vote below the national average during federal elections. According to an Elections Canada study, about 62 per cent of First Nations people voted in the 2011 federal election.