Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill, on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

All parties in the Commons give approval in principle to pandemic election bill

All parties profess not to want an election during the health crisis

All parties have given approval in principle to a bill aimed at ensuring a federal election could be safely conducted, if need be, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bill C-19 passed by a vote of 330-1 at second reading Tuesday, with Independent MP Derek Sloan registering the only objection.

It will now go to a House of Commons committee for scrutiny and possible amendments. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc has said the government is “wide open” to improvements to the legislation.

The all-party approval came one day after New Democrats joined forces with the minority Liberal government to cut short initial debate on the bill, which had been stalled since its introduction more than five months ago.

Conservative and Bloc Québécois MPs blasted the Liberals and NDP for colluding to gag democracy on a bill that’s supposed to protect it. But they all ended up supporting it in the end.

“Yesterday we opposed the Liberals’ gag order on Bill C-19 since changing the rules of democracy must be done by consensus and not by muzzling democracy,” Bloc House leader Alain Therrien said in a statement Tuesday.

“Now the Liberal-NDP alliance wants to decide on its own the terms of the next election. However, today we will be voting in favour of committee study of the bill so that we can continue the debate and table our amendments.”

Chief electoral officer Stephane Perrault appealed to parliamentarians last fall to swiftly pass legislation empowering Elections Canada to temporarily adopt new measures in the event of an election during the pandemic.

All parties profess not to want an election during the health crisis. But because the Liberals hold only a minority of seats in the Commons, an election could theoretically happen at any time, should all main opposition parties vote non-confidence in the government or should Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decide to pull the plug himself.

The bill would apply only to an election held while the pandemic continues to rage.

Among other things, it would allow for a three-day voting period, rather than the usual one day, make it easier for voters to obtain and cast mail-in ballots and give Elections Canada more flexibility to conduct mobile polls in long-term care facilities.

Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusfederal election

Just Posted

Tammy Bradford, manager of the Creston Museum & Archives for the last 23 years, wants to welcome visitors to check out their exhibits and programs this summer. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston Museum encourages summer visitors to check out programs and activities

After some temporary closures of indoor exhibits due to COVID-19, the museum has re-opened to welcome visitors

Protestors blocking Columbia Avenue Saturday evening. Photo: Betsy Kline
Old growth protesters begin 24-hour blockade of Castlegar’s main street

Members of Extinction Rebellion plan to stay overnight

Nasukin Jason Louie of the Lower Kootenay Band poses under the mural in the administration building. The mural depicts past elders David Luke, Wilfred Jacobs, Isobel Louie, Charlotte Basil, and Louis White. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Lower Kootenay Band announces cross-border COVID-19 vaccine clinic

In partnership with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, the clinic will be held on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

An old-growth stand pictured in Saook Bay on northeastern Baranof Island. Some individual trees were over six feet in diameter and many centuries old. (Photo courtesy of John Schoen)
E-Tips: Stop Deforestation

Trees are one of the regulators of our planet’s climate

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read