MPs will vote on Bill C-50, the Citizen Voting Act, at second reading today in the House. Following an Ontario Superior Court ruling that stated that Canadian citizens living abroad for more than five years could not vote was unconstitutional, the Conservative government introduced Bill C-50 in an attempt to align voter identification rules for the estimated more than 1.4 million citizens abroad who can now vote. “The bill would require that they prove their identity and their most recent Canadian address, using the same documentation as do voters who live in Canada under the new rules that came in through the Fair Elections Act,” Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre (Nepean-Carleton, Ont.) said in the House during debate on the bill previously. The bill makes changes to where a non-resident citizen could vote. Previously, they were able to choose to vote in a riding where they or their spouse last resided, their parents’ address or the address of someone they might ordinarily live. “Obviously someone living abroad most likely would not have a current residence in Canada, so I think it would be reasonable to ask them to cast their ballot for the constituency in which they last lived before they left the country. The citizen voting act would do that,” Mr. Poilievre said, noting also that someone who’s not lived in Canada would likely not have recent identification to prove their address. He said expired documentation such as a driver’s licence would be valid. The bill would also make changes to the international voters list, forcing non-citizen residents to apply for a special voting ballot, rather than automatically receiving one as is currently the case. Mr. Poilievre said that the bill would “improve the integrity of the system. It would ensure that only citizens vote, that their vote is only counted in the riding from which they come, and that they only vote once. That is basic to the integrity of our electoral system, and the bill would bring the rules for Canadians abroad in line with the rules we have now established for those voting here at home.” NDP MP Craig Scott (Toronto-Danforth, Ont.) called the bill the “Unfair Elections Act,” because he said it would actually make it more difficult for Canadians abroad to vote.“It is important that everyone knows that Bill C-50 would not remove any provision in the Canada Elections Act that was struck down by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice,” he said. “It is still sitting in the statute. The reason for this is that the government has clearly decided it is going to continue to fight to prevent citizens who have been away for more than five years from voting. It is appealing the decision, and it even sought a stay of the trial judgment to try to prevent it from going into effect. The Court of Appeal for Ontario denied that stay.” Mr. Scott said that if the government wanted to address the Ontario Superior Court ruling, it would simply remove the five-year limit on voting from the Canada Elections Act. Instead, it’s using the ruling to bring in unrelated and unnecessary changes, he said. “‘Riding shopping’ is not something that Elections Canada has ever seen as being a problem. All that happens at the moment is that multiple points of contact are available to increase the chances, the ease with which somebody from abroad can vote,” he said. Mr. Scott also noted a “big concern” is that the new rules for identification can be “extremely onerous” for citizens abroad. “They can produce delays that can result in ballots not arriving in time to be counted,” he said. “The primary problem is the requirement that voters have to register for each election, apply to receive their ballot or register, the same kind of thing collapsed into one, only once the writ has been dropped. People have to be aware that it has happened. They have to register quickly enough in order to ensure that all the mail can occur. As the minister has said, sending in their application, even if that is virtually, and receiving the special ballot and mailing it in and doing that from Dar es Salaam, New Delhi or Sydney, requires time.” Liberal MP Scott Simms (Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, Nfld.) said in debate on May 1 that eliminating the international voter’s list is “a solution looking for a problem that did not exist.” MPs will also debate Bill C-641, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, at the second hour of second reading and Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, at report stage today. Three Ontario by-elections called for Oct. 19 The government has called federal by-elections in the Ontario ridings of Ottawa West-Nepean, Sudbury and Peterborough for Oct. 19, the same day the general election is expected to take place. Ottawa West-Nepean was vacated when former Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird resigned suddenly in February. Sudbury was vacated when former NDP MP Glenn Thibeault quit to run for the Liberals provincially. Peterborough became vacant when former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro was found guilty of contravening the Canada Elections Act by overspending the legal limit in the 2008 election. By law, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) has 180 days to call a by-election from when the seat is vacated. The deadline to call one for the Peterborough seat was coming up this Wednesday. If the general election is called for prior to Oct. 19, the by-elections would be cancelled. On the agenda (all times local) Events Finance Minister Joe Oliver (Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.) will speak about the 2015 budget at a Canadian Club of Toronto luncheon at 12:25 p.m. Toronto, Ont. Governor General David Johnston will deliver the opening address at the Conference of the Canadian Association of Public Schools-International at 8:30 a.m. in Fredericton, N.B. He will then visit with Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside at 9:45 a.m. and then take part in a discussion with 21inc. leaders regarding innovation at 10:30 a.m. At 2 p.m., Mr. Johnston will meet with lobster, crab and shrimp fishermen in Shippagan, N.B.. He will later present the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award at 3:15 p.m. and then visit the Shippagan Campus of the Université de Moncton. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair (Outremont, Que.) will be at the Sept-Îles, Que., Chamber of Commerce to deliver a speech on creating jobs. 12:20 p.m., Gouverneur Hotel de Sept-Îles. Jeopardy!host Alex Trebek will present Canadian Geographic Challenge Awards to Grade 7 to 10 students. Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ont. Announcements Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt (Madawaska-Restigouche, N.B.) and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq (Nunavut) will make an announcement with Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated president Cathy Towtongie regarding jobs and growth in Nunavut.10 a.m., Iqaluit, Minister of State for Science and Technology Ed Holder (London West, Ont.) will make an announcement regarding funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation. 11 a.m. Montreal, Que. Conservative MP Keith Ashfield (Fredericton, N.B.) will announce support for Timbre Cases, Fredericton, N.B. 11 a.m. Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) will announce policy related to the middle class. 1 p.m. Gatineau, Que. Press conferences Members of the Filipino community will speak in protest of Filipino President Benigno S. Aquino’s visit to Canada. 10:30 a.m., Charles Lynch Press Theatre, 130-S Centre Block. Committee hearings Auditor General Michael Ferguson will appear before the House Public Accounts Committee at 3:30 p.m., room 237-C Centre Block, to discuss his department’s main estimates. The Senate National Security and Defence Committee will meet in room 2 Victoria Building at 1 p.m. to continue its study on security threats facing Canada. CBC officials will appear at the Senate Official Languages Committee at 5 p.m. to discuss the government’s response to the committee’s report on the broadcasting corporation’s language obligations. Room 9, Victoria Building.