03/08/2012 11:20 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

'Hell To Pay' Unless Tories Increase Election Agency Power


The NDP moved Thursday to tighten up a motion to give Elections Canada stronger investigative powers so they would apply to previous federal elections, including the 2011 vote at the centre of controversy over fraudulent robocalls and possible dirty tricks.

The party moved the amendment to change the way the motion was phrased so it would allow the chief electoral officer to use his power in investigations into previous elections rather than just elections in the future.

The vote on the non-binding motion and the amendment will happen Monday.

NDP MP David Christopherson says there will be "hell to pay" if the government doesn't bring in legislation to back up a motion to give Elections Canada more investigative power.

Christopherson said if the motion passes, Canadians will make sure the government has to follow through.

"If we get a positive motion today and in six months we don’t have legislation … I assure you there will be hell to pay," he said.

Christopherson said it won't just be opposition MPs putting pressure on the government.

'Canadians would rise up'

"I think Canadians would rise up in every way they can on radio shows, public demonstrations, being in the [House of Commons] gallery, letters, emails to their MPs. When the country has a message to deliver to their government, they have no problem finding their voice and their means to do it, and I think that would happen in spades," he said.

The NDP motion, which MPs debated Thursday, calls for the government to make three changes to the Elections Canada Act in the next six months:

- Give Elections Canada stronger investigative powers, including the ability to force political parties to provide supporting documents for their expenses.

- Require all telecommunication companies that provide voter contact services during a general election to register with Elections Canada.

- Make telecommunication companies identify and verify the identity of election clients.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand asked MPs on the procedure and House affairs committee to give him the power to demand receipts to support election spending by political parties. Candidates and party leadership contestants already have to supply receipts. But opposition MPs said the Conservatives on the committee blocked their attempt to recommend giving him that ability.

Tom Lukiwski, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader, said Mayrand suggested two options to deal with party spending, and the committee went with the option that cost the parties rather than taxpayers. The committee recommended the parties have their books audited to ensure they complied with the law.

"Why should taxpayers pay?" Lukiwski said.

Christopherson introduced the motion Thursday morning.

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