POLITICS

Marc Mayrand speaking time cut by Tories' procedural move

03/06/2014 10:48 EST | Updated 05/06/2014 05:59 EDT
A vote called by the Conservatives Thursday morning cut into several committee meetings, including one featuring an appearance by Canada's top election official, who was supposed to get 90 minutes to address proposed changes to federal election laws.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand has already been critical of the changes, which include measures to limit what he can say publicly.

The New Democrats and Conservatives had worked out a deal Tuesday evening for Mayrand to get 90 minutes to discuss the proposed changes. The deal ended a seven-hour filibuster by New Democrat MP David Christopherson.

The meeting was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET, but Government House Leader Peter Van Loan announced Thursday morning that MPs would vote on cutting off debate on an unrelated bill at 11:08 a.m.

CBCNews.ca will carry it live.

"We cut an honourable deal," Christopherson thundered in the House, calling it an "undemocratic process."

New Democrat House leader Nathan Cullen told the House that a "good-faith" agreement with Conservatives is something that can't be trusted.

In an interview last month, Mayrand said his reading of the bill is that, if it becomes law, he would "no longer [be able to] speak about democracy in this country."

"I'm not aware of any electoral bodies around the world who cannot talk about democracy," Mayrand told Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House.

The bill would also end vouching as a means to prove voters' identities when they don't have acceptable identification, would loosen spending rules and create a registry of companies that make automated robocalls.

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